Bridge outage disrupts local businesses

Nick Glunt

Business owners near the

Crain Avenue Bridge may continue

to suffer until the completion

of its replacement, the

Fairchild Avenue Bridge, which

is scheduled for the end of 2011

according to city officials.

The intersection of Crain

Avenue, Lake Street and North

Water Street is the area where

the highest number of car accidents

takes place in Kent, City

Engineer Jim Bowling said. He

said that in the past three years

there have been 180 reported

accidents there, he said.

“I’m assuming there were many

more because a lot of accidents go

unreported,” Bowling said.

He said the blame lies in the

congestion of drivers in that

area, which he calls the secondbusiest

crossing of the Cuyahoga

River in Kent.

To deter this congestion,

Bowling said the new Fairchild

Avenue Bridge will have an

added turn lane and will have

four lanes instead of the three

that the current bridge has. He

added that the bridge will be

built in an area with fewer intersections.

This project will cost $23 million

to complete and is already underway. It is the result of community

input since 1994, Bowling


Despite this input, business

owner Pat Flaningan said the project

has caused problems. Flaningan

has owned the Hutch Pet Shop at

the intersection near the Crain Avenue

Bridge for 37 years.

“[The project]’s been more than

a nuisance,” he said. “It’s been a

financial burden.”

Around Christmas, the city

closed the roads near his business

without warning and one “overzealous

officer” was ticketing

people who parked nearby. He

said they lost business during the

Christmas season because of the

road closings.

Flaningan also said that because

Crain Avenue is a downhill road,

many accidents could be attributed

to icy roads. Heavy drinking

can also contribute to some, he

said, because of the proximity to downtown Kent.

Flaningan said he has contacted

Bowling with his complaints, but

they were mostly ignored.

“[The Crain Avenue Bridge] is

in poor condition, but it is not a

hazard,” Bowling said. “It’s not

comfortable to drive on.”

He said the Crain AvenueBridge would be turned into an

extension of an existing pedestrian

and bike path. He also said

the train tracks that run through

downtown Kent are being reconstructed

and raised. The entire

project should be complete by

December 2012, he said.

“If you ask me,” Flaningan said, “I think the engineering

is questionable as far as traffic

flow goes.”

Contact administration reporter

Nick Glunt at [email protected].