Kent State endures delay of Summit Street renovations


Construction takes place on Summit Street Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. 

Colin Baker

Kent State students and nearby residents continue to endure Phase Two of the Summit Street renovation project, which began in February of 2017.

Residents living in apartments and fraternities on Summit Street were not happy upon hearing the project is now not expected to be completed until early 2018, according to the Kent State website.

The website also says the completion date may change “due to weather, utilities, and other factors.”

Joe Schuster, a sophomore health and human services major, member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity and resident of its unofficial house on Summit Street, complained about the noise and dangers during the project.

“They start jackhammering at seven in the morning,” Schuster said, “And me and my roommates have lost a lot of sleep over it. The project has affected my commute to school because, for at least 2-3 weeks, there were no sidewalks so I had to walk in the street.”

Schuster said the resulting chaos of the construction zone left him feeling nervous.

“The workers wouldn’t stop for myself or anyone else that would have to walk in the street. … They’d yell at us for being in the way but there was nowhere to walk.”

Schuster said his roommates have had similar difficult experiences, and all were upset upon hearing the project has been delayed until 2018.

“The progress of the project has been very slow. … The workers would block the driveway and some (of my roommates) would be late to class or work,” Schuster said. “This project has been such a pain for so long now, and I hate that it is being pushed back.”

Madison Wyckof, a junior speech pathology and audiology major who lives at the Eagle’s Landing apartment complex on Morris Road, said the project has affected her commute and was not happy upon hearing the project has been delayed until 2018.

“That’s really annoying, because now it’s going to take even longer for everything,” Wyckof said. “It definitely takes a lot longer to get to classes, you kind of have to go out of your way to turn left here.”

Adam Hirsh, the executive director of the Cohn Jewish Center, said the project gave the center some issues at first.

“It’s been difficult for people to find the building because we found that most GPS apps … never noted that the construction was going on,” Hirsh said. “For any visitors … they would hit Summit Street and the road would be closed, so we would have to get on the phone on (with) them and redirect them back to the center.”

Hirsh said despite these difficulties, the center’s day-to-day operations have not been affected too much, and even though the progress has been slow, he hopes the project will be done well.

The manager of Kent State Parking Services, Larry Emling, said Parking Services has had to make some changes to the spaces south of the Kent Student Center.

“We knew we would be losing space there as a result of the Summit Street construction — we would be losing about 100 spaces,” Emling said. “We’re rebuilding a lot of what’s left of the lot, and that number is still fluctuating. … We added about 140 spaces to account for it.”

Clayton Popik, the manager of planning and development for the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority buses, which service Kent State, said PARTA has adjusted well to the project.

“We really haven’t stopped moving at all,” Popik said. “All we did was redesign the routes around the one-way eastbound only. … We did unfortunately lose service to Hilltop Drive, but these changes have been so long-term that there’s probably a whole class of students that did not know any other routes existed.”

Jon Giaquinto, the senior engineer and front-line manager of the Summit Street renovation for the Kent engineering division, said the project has been delayed due to its scope and the goals of the renovations.

“There were several goals. … Improving safety was number one, there were a lot of crashes in this corridor, whether vehicular or pedestrian,” Giaquinto said. “We were trying to make this corridor safer for pedestrians and cyclists, with new bike lanes.”

The Kent city engineer overseeing the Summit project, James Bowling, cited the 2013-15 Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study as an example of the danger the Summit and S. Lincoln intersection posed to pedestrians.

“There are about 90 miles of road in the city of Kent,” Bowling said. “And 23 percent of all pedestrian accidents occurred in that one mile stretch of road.”

The $14.2 million second phase of the project included reducing the slope of the hill near the intersection of Summit and S. Lincoln Street, bulldozing the hill in front of the Cohn Jewish Student Center, adding new traffic signals at the Summit and S. Lincoln intersection, new pedestrian walkways and bike lanes along the length of Summit Street, re-routing Campus Center Drive and its parking lots and the installation of a roundabout near the Kent State Green in its front campus.

Colin Baker is the architecture/construction reporter for the Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].