Kent State University is asking the city of Kent to approve a plan to close part of South Willow Street in conjunction with the expansion of the esplanade.
The closing of South Willow Street will allow the intersection on Main Street to go from a five-leg intersection to a four-leg intersection, easing traffic coming in all directions.
“The university is conducting a traffic study at the city’s request in order to find traffic impacts by closing part of the street or building an architecture building into the open of South Willow Street,” said City Engineer Jim Bowling.
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Measuring traffic impacts is determined by the congestion created delaying traffic, safety and emergency access. As part of the study, there are eight different intersections that are being studied for these traffic impacts.
According to a study done by the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation from 2009-2011, East Main Street from Willow to Luther streets had the worst crash rate in the city of Kent.
“It’s not a decision the university makes. The city has been a great partner and we want to be respectful to that,” said Gregg Floyd, senior vice president for Finance and Administration.
Another study is being conducted to determine the impact of closing South Willow Street on utilities that are owned by the city.
“Utilities that are owned by the city include water, storm, sanitary and, in that location, traffic lines,” Bowling said. “The study is looking to make sure that people who live on South Willow can still have access to these utilities, even with part of the street closing.”
If the request of the university to close South Willow Street is granted, it will be responsible for paying reroutes of utilities in order for residents to still receive them.
“The utility study has determined that the city storm, sanitary and water utilities could be rerouted if the university built certain reroutes,” Bowling said.
Several months will pass before the studies are finished and a final decision will be made whether or not to close South Willow Street.
“Closing of a road doesn’t happen very frequently, but it isn’t unheard of,” Bowling said.
Celia Fernandez is the safety reporter for the Daily Kent Stater.
Contact Celia Fernandez at [email protected]