Future plans for Summit Street set to improve traffic flow


The intersection of Summit Street and West Campus Center Drive on Wednesday Sept 16, 2015.

Carson Kleinman

A $17.5 million street improvement project will begin this year to alter a one-mile stretch of Summit Street, from Loop Road to Lincoln Street.

This construction, which is divided into two phases, is projected to finish in 2018, though the time frame depends highly upon weather. According to the project page, 80 percent of this project will be covered by state and federal funds, while Kent State and the City of Kent will be splitting the remaining 20 percent of the cost of this project.

Summit Street is a very high-traffic and high-accident area and this project is designed to create a safer roadway for students and motorists.

According to the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study, shown on the project description, Summit Street is the most congested, non-freeway roadway in Portage and Summit Counties.

Along with the safety precautions, Tom Euclide, associate vice president of facilities planning and operations, said, “We needed to improve the traffic flow.”  

Many changes are set to be made to the area, according to the Summit Street Features Animation, including two new roundabouts, wider sidewalks, designated biking lanes, lighting, sheltered bus stops, safer crosswalks and a tree-lined median. Some small changes will begin to take place this fall, but the majority of construction, causing changes in the flow of traffic, are likely to begin in the spring of 2016, according to the Summit Improvement Project website.

Kenmore Construction, a company that has been in the area for more than 58 years, was awarded the contractor bid. Kenmore, located in Akron, has taken on many large projects similar to the Summit Street project. The city of Kent, however, is in charge of the project and will oversee construction.

Phase one of this project will take place between Loop Road and Fraternity Circle. This phase will begin with improving the crosswalks and turning lanes at the intersection on Loop Road and will add wide sidewalks along the south side of Summit Street, where pedestrians currently walk on the side of the road, just feet away from 35 mph traffic.

In front of the Recreation and Wellness Center, Ted Boyd Drive and Johnston Drive will be realigned and turned into a roundabout connecting with Summit Street. Parking at the Recreation and Wellness Center will be redesigned, as well and a tree-lined median will be connected to both sides of the roundabout. A new bus stop and crosswalk will also be built in front of the science corridor to allow for easier access for students.

Phase two will take place from Fraternity Circle to Lincoln Street. According to the video, this second phase will begin with the realignment of West Campus Center Drive, eliminating two traffic lights and creating a roundabout at the heart of campus. This roundabout will be directly at the entrance of the student center.

During the second phase, the storm-water management will be upgraded, treating watershed land before the water runs off into the storm sewer system, according to the project website. Crosswalks for students will be improved for safer crossing and the tree-lined median will continue. Also according to the Summit Street Features Animation, the slope of Summit Hill will be reduced and the intersection of Morris Road and Janik Drive will be improved with added turn lanes and crosswalks.

The project website states trees and other landscaping will be added to the perimeter to make for a more attractive roadway, during both phases. Along with that, the lighting over the roads and sidewalks will be upgraded for the safety of students. Lanes dedicated to bicyclists will be added throughout the entire length of the project as well.

The bulk of phase one will likely begin in spring 2016 when the winter weather subsides, the website reports. Throughout the duration of both phases, local motorists should be prepared for one-way, one-lane, eastbound traffic in the construction zones.  

All areas of campus will be accessible for students and faculty at all times during construction. PARTA bus routes will continue, though some routes may change during heavy construction times.

Jim Bowling, Kent city engineer, said that the normal construction period for road projects, such as this one, would last from approximately March through November. Electronic message boards will be posted in construction areas to keep motorists and pedestrians updated at all times.

Students can refer to FlashLine for updates on the construction. Any questions about the project can be directed to Kent’s Engineering Division and for any other inquiries, questions can be directed to [email protected].

Carson Kleinman is the safety and transportation reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].