Construction begins on Crain Avenue Bridge

Carolyn Fertig

A $25-million project will replace the existing Crain Avenue Bridge. Brittany Ankrom | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

The new Fairchild Bridge will replace the existing Crain Avenue Bridge, but will be in a new location, extending from Fairchild Avenue. The Crain Avenue Bridge will be converted into a pedestrian walkway, which will connect to the Portage County Hike and Bike Trail.

The new bridge will cross the Cuyahoga River and connect Fairchild Avenue to North Water Street for automotive traffic.

Kent City Engineer James Bowling said some of the Phase 1A construction has already started, such as changing and relocating phone and power lines.

The project is a joint collaboration between Kent, Portage County and the Ohio Department of Transportation and will cost about $25 million. Bowling said the city is paying about $4.4 million out of pocket for the project.

The project’s remaining $20.6 million has been obtained through federal funds from the Akron Metropolitan Transportation Area Study, ODOT and the County Engineers Association of Ohio.

The bridge is owned by Portage County, which has done extensive work on it in the last couple of years to maintain its safety and drivability. In a 2001 inspection, the bridge was rated “structurally deficient,” Bowling said.

County officials decided the bridge needed to be rehabilitated in 1994. After research, they decided it would cost less to replace the bridge than repair it, Bowling said.

In 1997, city officials decided to contribute money to the project. The city of Kent has seen traffic and safety problems at the intersections on the east and west side of the bridge.

“So, the city said, ‘If we are going to replace the bridge’,” Bowling said, “‘Why don’t we move it to a position where we can solve our congestion and safety problems?'”

ODOT is supervising the project because it has received federal funds. The department also picked a contractor after a bidding process. Beaver Excavating, a local construction company, will be paid $13.6 million to complete the job, ODOT official Justin Chesnic said.

ODOT only hires Ohio-based businesses to do projects to keep the money in the state, Chesnic said.

ODOT has purchased approximately 10 properties in the project area that will be demolished. Those properties were purchased to allow space for building the bridge, widening the road, drainage and other needs for the bridge, Chesnic said.

One of the buildings acquired was 715 S. Mantua St., where Skullz Salon used to operate, salon manager Amanda Boyd said.

Skullz Salon was bought for the construction by ODOT. The salon moved across the street from its current location, but ODOT was going to do construction on the parking lot. Boyd said she was not informed of this, so the salon had to move downtown – the third time the store has relocated in Kent.

“I think we have seen an increase (in business) since we moved downtown,” Boyd said. “It was a bad situation on why we had to keep moving, but in the end we were able to be in business and get enough strength in our business to move.

“I do think that the Crain Avenue project eventually will be less of an eyesore for that area, because there is a lot of empty buildings, and not much there right now, but the process will be a detriment to the city until it is finished.”

The Crain Avenue Bridge project will affect commuters to and from Kent and has already affected many businesses, reflecting an improvement to the city in its early stages, Bowling said.

“I think we have already seen it help the city of Kent already,” he said. “It’s taken some of the better businesses we had in that area and moved them. Most of the businesses have gone downtown, which strengthens the downtown. That has created a more solid core of businesses.”

The project is also going to help solve the most accident-prone intersection in the city, which is Fairchild Avenue, Crain Avenue and state Route 43 when it is finished.

Construction Schedule

The bridge is expected to be finished at the end of 2012.

The Crain Avenue Bridge and Fairchild Bridge are under construction, so there will be lane closures and detours. The City of Kent will give up-to-date information about closures on its radio station. Tune into 1620 AM for current construction information as construction gets underway. There is not an exact timeline for the project’s construction.

Phase 1A

&bull Fairchild Bridge construction.

&bull Temporary pavement construction on state Route 43 and Lake Street.

&bull Pavement construction on state Route 43.

&bull Limited traffic restrictions.

Phase 1B

&bull Utility relocation on Fairchild Avenue, state Route 43, Crain Avenue, Water Street and Lake Street.

&bull Limited traffic restrictions.

Phase 2A

&bull Fairchild Bridge construction.

&bull Pavement construction on Fairchild Avenue, state Route 43, Crain Avenue, Water Street and Lake Street.

&bull Railroad construction.

&bull Stinaff Street and Cuyahoga Street access from state Route 43 will be closed to all traffic..

&bull Fairchild Avenue will be closed for eight months. (Residential traffic only.) Take West Main Street to Akron Canton Boulevard instead of Fairchild Avenue.

&bull Crain Avenue will be closed for five months. (Residential traffic only.) Stay on state Route 43 and take state Route 59 instead of Crain Ave.

&bull Water Street is open to businesses and residential traffic. (Closed to thru traffic.)

Phase 2B

&bull Fairchild Bridge construction.

&bull Pavement construction on Fairchild Avenue, state Route 43 and Water Street.

Phase 3

&bull Fairchild Bridge construction.

&bull Pavement construction on state Route 43.

&bull Fairchild Bridge open to traffic.

&bull Railroad construction.

&bull Stinaff Street and Cuyahoga Street access from state Route 43 will be closed to all traffic.

&bull State Route 43 southbound traffic going east on Crain Avenue will be detoured.

Phase 4

&bull Pavement construction on state Route 43 and Lake Street.

&bull Crain Avenue Bridge demolition.

&bull Utility/pedestrian Bridge construction.

&bull Bike path construction.

&bull Landscaping.

&bull State Route 43 southbound traffic going east on Fairchild Avenue will be detoured.

Source: Division of Engineering, City of Kent.

Contact public affairs reporter Carolyn Fertig at