Update on construction over winter break

Allison Smith

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Fairchild Avenue and Cuyahoga Street reopened at their intersections with state Route 43 last Wednesday after months of construction. Route 43 will also be open to five lanes for north and southbound traffic.

Both streets were originally scheduled to reopen on December 1 but were delayed by snow and the replacement of a water main set the opening back.

The construction is part of phase 2A of the Fairchild Avenue Bridge project, set to be complete by the end of 2012, said Jim Bowling, Kent city engineer. The finished project will have a new bridge, new railroad tracks and an addition to the Portage Hike and Bike Trail.

Construction projects

With the absence of Kent State students over the winter break comes the opportunity for the university and city to construction. According to the City Manager Dave Ruller’s blog, www.kent360.com, here are some of the projects worked on over the break.

  • The Centennial Research Park is building out for Crystal Diagnostics. Construction began in mid-December and will go through to early March. It includes new wall partitions, ceilings, lighting, finishes and restrooms.
  • Renovations of the first floor in the University Library continued over the winter break. The exterior canopy work will continue through January.
  • The third floor of the west wing of Lowry Hall has been renovated to accommodate the staff of the new College of Public Health. Move-in is scheduled to be in early January.
  • Formerly part of the small group dorms, Stewart Hall is being renovated for the relocation of Information Services. The building is expected to be ready for office move in by February.
  • The Summit Street sidewalk has been expanded to create safe access from the C-Science parking lot to campus. Paving has been completed and landscaping will resume in the spring.

p>“You could walk from the northeast of Kent all the way to the southwest end of the city once this is done and cross only one street,” he said.

A major part of the project is raising the railroad 4 feet, Bowling said. In order to do this, the railroad has to be modified all the way from 2,000 feet north of Fairchild to Main Street.

“The railroad needs to be finished before we open the bridge because we have to raise the rail line,” Bowling said.

During the phase two construction, residents living on the west side of the Cuyahoga River had to go out of the way to get to the university or downtown Kent, Bowling said.

While construction on state Route 43 is nearing completion, the next phase of the project, in 2011, might affect students at Kent State more, Bowling said.

Phase 2B will entail closing the Lake Street, Crain Avenue and Water Street intersection. The construction is expected to take five months and will include the Fairchild bridge construction, pavement construction and a detour for Fairchild Avenue.

“This neighborhood is very residential and they were concerned about thru traffic,” he said. “Everyone who comes from the north to the university, likes this route.”

Bowling said the entrance to Crain Avenue will look more like a subdivision.

“(There will be) brick pavement,” he said. “And then there will be a median, and then there will be a monument saying ‘Crain Avenue Neighborhood’ all being placed.”

He said the City Engineering Department does listen to residents affected by the construction.

“If we can do something, we will,” he said. “If we do our jobs perfectly, then we’ll have foreseen everything. But we’re not perfect.”

Contact Allison Smith at [email protected].