Two-year Summit Street project will transform one-mile stretch bordering campus

Chelsea Graff

Construction has begun on a two-year project to improve safety and traffic conditions on Summit Street.

According to the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study, Summit Street is the most dangerous corridor for pedestrians in the city of Kent and the most congested stretch of road in Portage and Summit counties.

“In the last three years, 23 percent of all pedestrian accidents city wide were in this one-mile stretch of road,” said James Bowling, superintendent of engineering and deputy service director for the city. “The overall project is meant to relieve traffic congestion (and) improve vehicular and pedestrian safety to the corridor.”

Bowling said the Summit Street Improvement Project will transform the road into a boulevard and add two roundabouts at the entrance to Risman Plaza and at Ted Boyd Drive between the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and the power plant.

The project will also add sidewalks, bicycle lanes, turning lanes, pedestrian crossings and bus stops.

“We’re going to make Summit Street a nice boulevard,” Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala said. “It’s going to be pedestrian-friendly, bicycle-friendly and also vehicle-friendly.”

In addition, Campus Center Drive will be relocated to align with the Student Green. It will be shifted over into the current Campus Center parking lot, causing the elimination of parking spaces.

Michael Bruder, Kent State executive director of Facilities Planning and Design, said there are plans to add spots that will make up for the lost spaces.

During construction, the one-mile stretch between Lincoln Street and Loop Road will turn into a one-way street heading eastbound. The area will still be accessible for emergency vehicles.

The project will be split into two phases. Work will take place between Fraternity Circle and Loop Road during phase one, and work will take place between Fraternity Circle and Lincoln Street during phase two.

“We are encouraging people to carpool, ride their bikes and take the buses,” Bruder said.

The entire project is expected to be finished sometime in late 2017. However, the completion date could be pushed back due to weather, according to a university website.

Bruder said the project will cost about $15 million. The Ohio Department of Transportation will pay for 80 percent of the project; the city of Kent and Kent State will be splitting the remaining 20 percent.

The city opened bids from various constructions companies for the project Tuesday, but Bowling said it will take a few weeks of checking qualifications and references to determine which company will receive the project.

Contact Chelsea Graff at [email protected].