Summit Street opens two-way traffic, university plans Phase Two construction


Traffic returns to using Summit St. as a two way road after lenthy construction in Kent, Ohio on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016

Mitch Felan

Summit Street Opens For Two Lane Traffic from on Vimeo.

After months of construction, Kent’s East Summit Street is once again open to two-way and two-lane traffic.

According to Kent City Engineer Jim Bowling, the return of two-way traffic means that the first phase of The Summit Street Improvement Project is nearly complete.

“I’m very happy that the first season is wrapping up, (the) two-way and two-lane traffic is open, and that the road’s functioning as we intended it to,” Bowling said.

The phase was expected to be complete by mid-November, according to restrictions set by the university. Now that it is nearly complete, Bowling is preparing for what he calls a “productive off-season” in the winter months.

According to Kent State’s Planning Director Michael Bruder, while Phase One is not completely out of the way, reopening two-way traffic was the main goal before students left for winter break.

“The intent is during the winter months the city and university can plow snow and minimize the impacts of traffic. It’ll be two-way traffic during the winter months,” Bruder said.

Bruder and Bowling said that construction workers will be excavating, moving utility lines and planning for Phase Two construction during the winter months.

But before the university and construction workers can set their sights on Phase Two, there is one last task to complete before the snow comes: reopening Ted Boyd Drive.

“(Ted Boyd Drive) is the only thing that’s not open yet that we want open before snow,” Bowling said.

Bowling said that construction workers were targeting Thursday as the start date for repaving the road, but is unsure how far crews will progress before projected snow showers hit Kent this weekend.

“It’s difficult when we’re working in a non-controlled environment. So it’s hard to say ‘on this date, this is going to happen and on this date, this is going to happen’ because it fluctuates and changes each day,” Bowling said.

While Bruder and Bowling both said the process of repaving Ted Boyd Drive would be weather-dependent, Bruder says it could take a minimum of three to four weeks to reopen the road.

After the road is open again, construction workers will prepare for Phase Two, which is scheduled to begin in March. It will close Summit Street, once again, to one-way traffic.

“The difference of the phases is how traffic is maintained at that time. When Phase One was in, we had one-way, one-lane traffic east of Fraternity Circle. Phase Two will be one-way, one-lane traffic west of Fraternity Circle,” Bowling said.

He said the major construction areas for Phase Two will reconstruct Summit Street from Willow Street to Fraternity Circle and eliminate an intersection to relocate Campus Center Drive to Kent State’s Student Green and Risman Plaza areas to reduce congestion.

According to Bruder, reducing congestion is a major goal of Phase Two in general.

“(It’s) a relief of the traffic congestion in that corridor,” he said. “That’s been a complaint for many years (about that road).”

Another major renovation to Summit Street is done with pedestrians in mind and would allow for better transportation to students without cars.

“I think it will benefit that part of campus with (its) tree-lined streets. We have broader sidewalks, we have sidewalks in places we didn’t have sidewalks before and we have bike lanes,” Bruder said. “So there are a lot of amenities that aren’t just focused on cars.”

But until then, Summit Street will once again become a one-way street this spring, and Bowling is asking for patience from students and Kent residents until the project is complete in December 2017.

“Thank you to everyone for the patience they went through last year in 2016 and we beg for more patience in 2017 because we know it’s difficult to have to go through that every day,” he said. “But in the end we’re making the facility for everybody for the next 20 years.”

Mitch Felan is the safety and transportation reporter, contact him at [email protected].