Small town streetscape

    After about two years of construction, the Village of Minster’s Fourth Street corridor is complete. Additional non-roadway improvements now are planned along the route.
    Photo: Village of Minster

    With a long, rich history of community pride and ambition, the Village of Minster, Ohio, wasn’t going to treat the streetscape design and reconstruction of one of its main corridors, Fourth Street, with anything less than patience, thoroughness, and innovation. Originally founded as "Stallostown" by six German immigrants in 1832, the Village of Minster is now home to 2,800 people who take pride in the inviting atmosphere and historic feel of this west-central Ohio town.

    Fourth Street Reconstruction, Village of Minster, Ohio

    Civil engineer
    Choice One Engineering

    Project summary
    Pavement design, underground utilities, and aesthetic features support business, traffic, and community events.

    This corridor is especially significant because it houses some of the village’s oldest businesses, includes a crossing of the historic Miami-Erie Canal, and includes a busy community park that houses the town’s yearly Oktoberfest celebration. When it became apparent that Fourth Street needed repair, village officials made it clear that this roadway would be a top priority to repair, replace, and enhance.

    A traditional streetscape of the roadway would be an obvious direction to take the design; a streetscape atmosphere would help promote and maintain local business, as well as enrich the atmosphere during the Oktoberfest festival. There was one catch: In addition to being a thoroughfare for the festival, banks, shops, and personal services, Fourth Street is a major truck route.

    With average daily traffic (ADT) of 4,720 and, more significantly, an ADT of more than 500 for heavy truck traffic, the streetscape and reconstruction of Fourth Street needed to be not only beautiful, but also practical and durable. Several businesses located just off the western terminus of the Fourth Street project generate the truck traffic: Precision Strip, Inc. (coiled metal producer), Minster Machine, Inc. (manufacturing press builder), and Trupointe (grain/agricultural cooperative). Combined, these three industries create some seriously heavy trucks with serious frequency.

    To accommodate this heavy truck traffic while still keeping aesthetics in mind – and to effectively replace the old pavement, which included asphalt overlays, concrete, and bricks – consulting engineers Choice One Engineering (Sidney, Ohio, and Loveland, Ohio) designed a pavement base and composition that began with 8 inches of aggregate base and 9 inches of asphalt concrete base. The next course consisted of 2 inches of intermediate asphalt concrete, Type 2, PG 76-22m. The following course, which differed from standard pavement compositions in this area, was a firm course of 2 inches of surface course asphalt, Type 1H, PG 76-22m.

    The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) was also a critical partner in the project. Through the staff at District 7, ODOT provided funding and specifications for the high-density pavement used on the project. ODOT density specifications were applied to the pavement along the entire project. The top two surfaces were designed using ODOT’s specifications on high-volume turning intersections, which is a rare specification to use in a village. However, the high truck volume in Minster justified the use of this specification because of the heavy truck traffic using and frequently turning at the Fourth and Main intersection.

    Equally important to the project was the visual appeal of the street because Centennial Park, located in the town’s heart, host’s the annual Minster Oktobefest, a fall celebration of the village’s German heritage that attracts an estimated 80,000 people to Minster, including vendors, entertainment, and a parade. With such a large event happening where the intended streetscape was to be constructed, considerations were made for the facilitation of the event, as well as the historic appearance of the Oktoberfest grounds and associated streets. Such considerations included planters, a speaker system, narrow curb line for traffic calming in certain sections, brick walkways, decorative street lighting and mast arms, and brick roadway sections. Electrical outlets were placed at each tree to allow for electrical access all along the route, and to facilitate holiday lighting. The village’s F.J. Stallo Library, also located on the project route, was enhanced with additional parking, an off-street bike rack area, and a reading patio.

    Included in the design of the streetscape was a type of tree well new to the area: Silva cells. Developed by Deep Root Technologies (, Silva cells are modular, suspended pavement systems that use soil volumes to support large canopy-type tree growth. Each Silva cell used on the project was composed of a frame and a deck. Frames are 48-inches long by 24-inches wide by 16-inches high, and each one holds 10 cubic feet of soil. They were stacked two high before they were topped with a deck to create a maximum containment area for lightly compacted loam soil. Each unit is about 92 percent void space, making it easy to accommodate utilities.

    Maintaining traffic was also crucial to the project, as numerous service and commercial businesses line Fourth Street. Access to businesses was maintained through the use of temporary pavement, back alleys, and side streets. The project was constructed in several small sections to allow access from each end. The maintenance of traffic plan was well executed by Brumbaugh Construction, of Arcanum, Ohio (the general contractor on the project). Business owners and residents made multiple positive comments on the efforts made by Brumbaugh Construction to maintain traffic and promote safety on the job site for workers and the public.

    Finally, one of the last major components of the reconstruction was the massive quantity of overhead utilities that were to be buried. Telephone, electric, and cable lines on utility poles overhead were set to be buried in conduit. To accomplish this, the village coordinated a utility corridor of several conduits and junction chambers that would work well with all aspects of the project to bury the wires that previously ran overhead down Fourth Street. Once the wires were buried, all old utility poles and wiring were removed.

    Additional, future, non-roadway improvements are planned along the project route. The village plans enhancements to Centennial Park, the site of concerts, community events, and a yearly tree lighting event complete with a visit from Santa. Businesses along the route have improved or plan to improve landscaping and outdoor amenities, adding to the character of the street. For instance, a pizza parlor on the corner of Fourth and Main Street used the streetscape feel and improved sidewalks to install an outdoor patio with seating and landscaping. Other businesses are considering murals, decorative facades, and outdoor seating to take advantage of the charming atmosphere created by the streetscape amenities.

    Roughly two years and three phases after the first old asphalt was cut, the Minster Fourth Street corridor is complete and functioning. Without the dedication of the village, as well as the help of ODOT, utility companies, residents, and business owners, this project would not have been successful. With durable pavement, decorative touches, an innovative tree-well system, and well-executed maintenance of traffic plan, the Fourth Street Reconstruction project will be a highlight of the Village of Minster for years to come.

    Silva cells will support large canopy-type tree growth along the corridor.
    Photo: Village of Minster
    Miles of conduit were installed to bury utilities.
    Photo: Village of Minster
    Old pavement included asphalt, concrete, and bricks.
    Photo: Village of Minster

    Kaye Borchers is funding specialist/client relations with Choice One Engineering, Sidney, Ohio (