New green space to link Kent’s parks

Kate Murphy

A new green space that will link two of Kent’s popular parks underneath the Fairchild Bridge is under construction and set to be completed in November 2013.

When completed, this space will tie together the Portage Hike and Bike Trail, which will cross the river near Lake Street, with River Edge Park, which spans from the new green space south along the river.

James Bowling, deputy service director and superintendent of engineering for Kent, maintains areas such as roads and bridges on a day-to-day basis.

“The green space has been in the picture for a long time,” Bowling said. “It was added when the plan was being reevaluated in 2002.”

The longtime plan is finally taking shape with the addition of retaining walls, asphalt, marshlands and aesthetically pleasing landscaping.

Brian Dell, project engineer for the Ohio Department of Transportation, has been working very closely with the $22 million project since 2009.

“The project is going to look really nice when it is done,” Dell said. “You’re going to be able to walk down from 43 with a set of steps that we are putting in. Then you’re going to have an overlook and seating area for residents to hang out. There will be a bike path below with a small little walkway going across this marshland.”

The $18,000 marshlands will catch any drainage from the bridge or the road so none of the sentiment flows into the river or all over the green space.

The cascading stonewalls being put into the space are recycled materials from the old Crain Avenue bridge, which was taken down last year.

Dell said turning this sandstone into walls and setting it in the new green space cost roughly $233,000.

“They built the old bridge from the ground up, just laying these sandstone pieces,” Dell said. “What the contractor had to do was very carefully deconstruct it the way it was built. Then we went through and picked out the stones that fit the height requirements and also looked nice. And the guys have done a really good job with that.”

With only one wall left to put in, the three-person crew that works on this project daily will be moving on to creating the set of steps and eventually laying asphalt for the bike trail.

The pedestrian bridge being built from the bridge on Crain Avenue is set to be completed in May. It will now only carry walkers and bikers, and will also double as a tunnel connecting the new walking trail to the existing trail underneath.

The marshlands, bike trail and pedestrian bridge are planned to be completed in August. ODOT and the city of Kent will then bring in residents to walk around the new space and give their opinions.

“It’s called our punch list,” Dell said. “Whatever these people don’t like or want to change, the contractor will take into consideration and fix up if needed. And the last thing to do before November is finishing up landscaping.”

Dell said he hopes to have the project completed by the estimated time, but reinforces that the dates are weather and emergency dependent.

“We’ve run into a lot of unknowns in this project with Kent being an older, industrial-type city,” Dell said. “You start digging, and you find old pipes of conflicts with what we’re supposed to be building. Finding the underground things is the hardest. If we had X-ray vision, that would be great. Unfortunately, we don’t. It sets us back a little bit.”

Contact Kate Murphy at [email protected].