Summit Street Improvement Project finalizes construction plans for the upcoming semester

A person walks toward one of the new traffic circles locates on Summit Street on Aug. 29, 2018.

David Williams

While settling in for the new semester, the Kent State community likely noticed several changes around campus regarding construction. Among the changes include a new roundabout and boulevard.

The new roundabout is located where Summit Street intersects with West Campus Center and Risman Drives. The new boulevard runs along Summit Street between the Morris Road and East Campus Center Drive intersections.

This new roundabout and boulevard are the latest projects to come out of the Summit Street Improvement Project, a collaboration started in 2012 between the university and the city of Kent. The project has the goal of improving safety and traffic flow on Summit Street, said Michael Bruder, the executive director of facilities, planning and design for Kent State.

The Summit Street Improvement Project has a budget of $17 million and is funded by Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS), Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC), Ohio Department of Transportation – Highway Safety Program (ODOT HSP), City of Kent and Kent State.

The new roundabout is the second on campus and third on Summit Street.

The first roundabout, completed in January 2017, is where Summit Street intersects with Johnston and Ted Boyd Drives. According to a video released by Kent State, collisions at this roundabout decreased by 80 percent.

The third roundabout at the intersection of Summit Street and Powder Mill Road is not on Kent State property.

Students expressed mixed feelings regarding the new roundabout.

“They’re really efficient,” said Michael Mascella, a junior digital science major. “They’re a lot better for buses than regular intersections. It’s easier for them to make a turn at a roundabout and keep traffic moving.”

“I haven’t used it much because I’m so used to the constant construction, so I use back roads to avoid it,” said Marissa LaVella, a junior marketing major. “At least it’s aesthetically pleasing. Even though it takes a long time to complete, the end product will serve its purpose and attract future generations.”

The new roundabout offers pedestrians an easier way to cross the street with new High-Intensity Activated Cross-Walk (HAWK) beacons, according to Kent State’s internal newsletter, e-Inside. The beacons allow pedestrians to activate the crosswalk’s signals, notifying approaching vehicles of their presence and when it’s safe to proceed.

“[Construction has] been a lot better so far this year,” said Micah Martino, a sophomore fashion design major who commutes 40 minutes from Brunswick. “The new roundabout is neither particularly good [nor] bad. I never thought it was necessary, but it keeps traffic moving instead of stop and go, which is nice.”

Martino also expressed concern over the new roundabout.

“I feel like there [will] be some accidents because younger drivers may not pay enough attention to the roundabout.”                      

With a majority of Summit Street’s work completed, most of what remains are landscaping projects that Bruder hopes to finalize in the coming months.

Among other upgrades to campus include renovations to several buildings, including Bowman Hall and Eastway Center, renamed the Eastway Fresh Food Company. Work finished this summer on a two-phase mechanical system upgrade to Bowman Hall to fix heating and air conditioning issues, said Bruder. The dining area at Eastway Center underwent a $5 million remodel, which included additional indoor and outdoor balcony seating.

The next construction project will be the renovation of the Art Building into the Design Innovation Hub, said Bruder. Half of the building will be furnished with studios and workshops and the remaining area will be renovated to house The Market in two years.

Currently, The Market remains fully operational until the remodel in the Art Building is completed, after which it will serve as a reservable banquet space. According to the Office of the University Architect, construction on the Art Building will begin in summer of 2019.

Until then, students can expect to see very little campus construction.

“During the 2018-2019 academic year, I think it’s going to be pretty quiet,” Bruder said.

David Williams is a general assignment reporter. Contact him at [email protected]