Drivers prepare for further construction on Summit Street starting Monday

MAP

MAP

Hannah Coleman

Kent State students and community members need to start planning extra time in their commutes to prepare for the Summit Street Improvement Project Phase II.

Beginning Monday, traffic will be reduced to one-way, eastbound traffic from Morris Road to Willow Street until May. Construction crews will be working on shortening the hill, changing the functionality of the Lincoln and Summit Streets’ intersection and adding additional lanes.

“You’ll see a right and a left turn lane, and a through lane, bike lanes and wider sidewalks,” said James Bowling, superintendent of engineering and deputy service director for the City of Kent. “Coming east, you’re prohibited to turn left onto Lincoln. We will remove that and make it so you can turn left. We’ll put a left turn lane in and make it safer for there.”

Additional traffic lights will also be installed.

“There will be a new signal system that will be timed with the other signals in the corridor. There will be a bus stop on Lincoln off the road so the busses aren’t blocking traffic,” Bowling said. “The signals will have the audible push buttons for the blind like you see on Main Street.”

As of now, the intersection is one of the most dangerous in the City of Kent. The work done will improve safety and traffic flow through that area.

“Right now, there’s an angle point in the intersection. If you’re driving down Summit Street going west, you look like you’re going right into the new philanthropy building,” Bowling said. “We’re going to put a curve in the road so when you go through that intersection, you’re facing the road instead of the building. It won’t be as steep coming down because we are cutting that hill down on one end and we are going to be raising the ground a little bit on the other.”

Safety is the primary concern for the City of Kent and the contractors working on the project. Phase I, which was completed last semester, went “fairly well,”  Bowling said. However, the city saw increased congestion on East Main Street in front of campus, which overloaded the signal system during peak commuting hours during the day.

Detours will be posted online and on changeable message boards down Summit Street.

“I wouldn’t panic at all,” Bowling said. “Follow the detour; (Route) 261, we put it there for a reason. It has the most capacity to take more cars, and if you need to go west, you can take Route 261 to Route 43 and it will be your quickest route. It may not be perceived that way, but it is that way. Legally, you can go 55 (mph).”

PARTA bus routes will remain the same throughout the project. They put all the busses eastbound in response to the first phase of the project and made no changes to the routes in anticipation for the second phase.

“Any time you use public transportation, you’ll have a more relaxing ride. Someone else is driving, and there’s less cars on the road,” Bowling said. “If that works in your schedule, I would heavily encourage that. And if it doesn’t, the roads are still open for people to use.”

Originally, the plan had Summit Street reduced to one-lane, one-way traffic up to Fraternity Circle for the entire duration of Phase II. But, the city learned from changes that worked out well during the first phase, and are implementing those ideas during the second phase to make things easier for commuters.

The city worked with the university and the contractor to begin working in stages during the latter part of Phase I. Phase II will be done in stages with the intersection of Lincoln and Summit Streets as the first part.

Updates and information regarding the Summit Street Improvement Project can be found at kent.edu/summitstreet.

Hannah Coleman is the parking and transportation reporter, contact her at [email protected]