Citizens discuss safety on Summit

Joanne Bello

Kent citizens met last night with the University Area Transportation Projects Citizens Advisory Committee to discuss traffic safety on Summit Street.

Attendees included citizens, a student and a university representative, committee members and spokespeople from the Presbyterian Church on Summit Street.

“Summit Street is a very congested road, and if it were easier for emergency vehicles and pedestrians to get through, it would solve some of the problems,” said Tom Clapper, general manager of University Transportation Services. “If the road was better looking, I think people would use it more too.”

Throughout the meeting, citizens made suggestions of their own for what they feel would help with the traffic problems.

Some of the suggestions included student carpooling, staying off Summit Street when classes are letting out and connecting some private streets to main campus roads.

Kent Service Director Gene Roberts said the community gave some really good suggestions the committee hadn’t thought of, and the committee is glad they had the open discussion.

“We got a couple of ideas that we are definitely going to use,” Roberts said. “We are going to try to speak to university officials to get release times for classes and try to post them in the Tree City Bulletin.”

Another issue causing heavy traffic on Summit Street is students’ inclination to drive from parking lot to parking lot so they don’t have to walk to class. In today’s society, if we can’t park right in front of our destination, we don’t want to go anywhere, Roberts said.

“I think we need more of a way to work together to get rid of the parking lot hopping to relieve the congestion,” said Matt Maynard, a student representative in the transportation committee. “We need a way for students to feel safe, so they don’t take their cars to different parking lots just to avoid the traffic.”

Some of the considerations the committee are looking at include:

• Redirecting traffic from Summit Street to state Routes 43, 59 and 261, Interstate 480, and the Ohio Turnpike

• Reorganizing key intersections, such as Willow and Main Street

• Shifting the balance between private and public transportation on Summit Street in favor of public transportation

• Making walking and bicycling the preferred mode of transportation to and from campus

• Placing parking at the four primary entries to the university

• Phasing out parking spaces in lots adjacent to Summit Street

The public bussing system is trying to improve the conditions by putting new bus shelters on and off campus and to address the bus re-entry traffic from bus stops.

Roberts said if the city can get the state funding to start the improvements, it won’t be able to begin the project for a few years. The city will have to lay out plans before any improvements can start.

The committee will meet again to further discussions on the project Feb. 28. The tentative meeting place is the Kent firehouse.

Contact public affairs reporter Joanne Bello at [email protected].