LaHood approves grant funds for Kent transit center

Kyle Reynolds

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood came to Kent on Friday to sign a $20 million grant for the $26 million Kent Central Gateway project.

The grant, which is being used as a part of Kent’s extensive economic revitalization plans, will fund the Kent Central Gateway project, which will serve as a multimodal transit center. The grant was awarded as part of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, which was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Congressman Tim Ryan said the project is a result of collaboration between PARTA, Kent State, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the federal government.

“If we are going to achieve great things in this country, it’s going to be by working together,” Ryan said.

When completed, the facility will include a bus transfer facility, bicycle storage area, parking deck, retail space and indoor and outdoor waiting areas.

LaHood said the facility is expected to be an attraction downtown that will build the community and be a welcoming place for visitors.

“This new facility is a brand new gathering place for art, culture and commerce,” LaHood said. “In short, it is not just a building or a transportation center, it’s also a gateway to make Kent a more livable and inviting community.”

Eric Czetli, ODOT District Four Deputy Director, described the facility as “a one-stop shop for virtually every mode of travel”.

The facility will also be a green facility, utilizing solar panels and geothermal technology, said Max Blackman, a representative of Sen. Sherrod Brown.

“PARTA understands going green is not only good for our environment and is not only good for our bottom line as so many of us know,” Blackman said, “but it’s also good for job creation right here in Ohio”

The facility is expected to generate 700 permanent jobs and 250 from its construction.

LaHood said there are currently are more than 13,000 transportation projects funded by the stimulus underway.

“Here in Ohio, roughly 7,000 construction workers are on the job full time building roads, tunnels, bridges, airports, rail systems and more,” LaHood said. “Since the stimulus effort began, Ohio’s construction workers and laborers have brought home over $40 million in paychecks.”

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