Crain Avenue bridge construction causes headaches

Anthony White

The Crain Avenue and Fairchild Avenue bridge construction continues to linger on in the city, creating headaches for motorists.

The Fairchild Avenue bridge construction was recently completed and is now open to through traffic, but the Crain Avenue bridge construction is still ongoing. The projected completion date is December 2012.

“We’re still on path to finish the majority of the work by December, although we have run into a minor setback with the old utility lines. Trying to update the power lines could move us back slightly,” said James Bowling, superintendent of engineering and deputy service director of Kent engineering division.

Even with the completion of the Fairchild Bridge, Bowling said there is still an issue. When motorists try to make a left turn off of Fairchild Avenue on to state Route 43, this becomes a problem in the afternoon as there is too much traffic congestion. Bowling said this has made it hard to validate keeping the Fairchild Avenue bridge open during construction.

Kent students navigating downtown have also seen congestion through the construction area.

“All this construction makes it hard to concentrate on my daily tasks. When I venture downtown, I have to give myself more time to get around. This makes commuting home a real pain as well,” said Nicholas Grissinger, senior sports administration major.

The Crain Avenue bridge is one of only five bridges crossing the Cuyahoga River in Kent. The bridge sees approximately 15,000 vehicles per day. It is the second most active crossing in Kent. The intersection of state Route 43, Crain and Fairchild Avenues is also the most congested intersection in Portage and Summit counties.

The new Sheetz on North Mantua Street has brought more traffic to the area. When asked if they have seen an increase or decrease in revenue due to the construction, manager Holly Strickland declined to comment.

Bowling said other than issues with the utility line, the project is going well.

“Financially, we’re still on budget [with our] project,” he said. “As far as federal funds go, we don’t expect any more assistance. Once the construction begins, we signed a contract that states the city is responsible for any overages or any more project costs.”

The bridge project is supposed to bring many new features to the area including a new four-lane bridge along Fairchild Avenue, wider sidewalks on the new bridge, new hiking and bike trail systems along the river and an added turn lane on state Route 43 and Fairchild Avenue.

Contact Anthony White at [email protected].