Future Route 43 work concerns businesses

Rachel Abbey

Cracks running through the pavement, raised patches of asphalt and water-filled potholes can make driving down state Route 43 an obstacle course for any driver.

That will change this summer when the state repaves state Route 43 from its intersection with state Route 261 to state Route 59 and River Street from state Route 59 to West Main Street.

The Ohio Department of Transportation will award the contract in February, but exact dates for the project are still unknown. It will probably take three to four months to complete, city engineer Chris Tolnar said.

That stretch of state Route 43 spans student-friendly businesses such as Kent Lanes, the University Plaza Theatre and Burger King. Sitting on the intersection with state Route 59 at one end of the expected road work lies Walgreens.

Store manager Jeff Roeger is apprehensive about the construction, but said he won’t know if it will cause problems until the project begins. It will all depend on traffic control, Roeger said.

Tolnar said the road will be kept open during construction.

“It may not be the most convenient to go through, but it will be maintained,” Tolnar said.

Both Dairy Queen and Katie’s Korners Ice Cream are along the road, and summer is obviously their season.

“It’ll kill us,” said Tara Savage, a Dairy Queen employee.

Her main concern is when the construction will be directly in front of the building, leaving only one lane open.

Roeger also said he was concerned that construction vehicles might park in his lot, taking space away from customers.

Walgreens’ corner location could actually make a positive impact on business during the road work, Roeger said.

“Maybe they’ll cut through my parking lot and buy stuff,” he said. “I won’t stop them,” he added, laughing.

He doesn’t think it will be too bad, however. Roeger lives in Brimfield, where state Route 43 was repaired last summer, and said the construction wasn’t too intrusive. And he feels it’s necessary, at least near the state Route 261 intersection.

Savage said she feels the city should be giving more attention to back roads because they’re in worse shape.

Tolnar said it has been a “decent” amount of time since that section of state Route 43 was last paved, but he can’t remember exact dates.

Kent has a program to rate road conditions and organize them in order of age and condition. City officials then examine the list, taking into consideration additional factors, such as whether the street has major or minor traffic flow and if it is residential. Tolnar said the city tries to resurface or reconstruct the most disruptive or deteriorating ones every year.

No major overhauls will be held this summer, he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].