WEB EXCLUSIVE: State Route 261 to be closed Aug. 25, 26

William Schertz

State Route 261 between state Route 59 and Summit Street will be closed from 7 a.m. Thursday to 7 p.m. Friday, but officials aren’t expecting the closure to interfere with student move-ins.

The Ohio Department of Transportation will be assembling a bridge over state Route 261 as an addition to the Portage County Hike and Bike Trail.

“They need to put a bridge over 261, but we can’t put it up over moving traffic,” said Sommer Dunlevy, public information specialist for the department.

The closure was originally scheduled to take place Wednesday and Thursday, but was delayed because of trucking problems with transporting the bridge.

Dunlevy also said part of the decision to change the date was because the department did not know that Wednesday was a move-in day for university freshmen.

“It’s a high traffic area due to Kent State students coming in,” she said. “We’re trying to work with the university so that we don’t impact traffic more than it needs to be.”

Thomas Clapper, general manager of transportation services, said even with the initial date of the project, university students should not have been affected very much by the closure.

“That section of 59 and Summit really isn’t used that much by people moving in,” Clapper said. “We’d rather get it done as early as possible rather than when classes start.”

Dunlevy said there will be posted detours for people who need to travel through the closed stretch of road.

Though the section of state Route 261 will only be closed two days, the $548,000 project is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 30 of this year, depending on the weather.

Clapper said the bridge is part of a collaborative effort of the city of Kent, Kent State, Ravenna and several other cities and townships to connect Portage County to other Ohio counties through pedestrian and bike trails.

“You as a student could go to Canton, or Akron or Ravenna by bike,” Clapper said.

Even with the temporary closure, Clapper does not expect many complaints from students or area residents, and he feels the outcome of the project will be worth the inconvenience.

“Is it a little bit of an inconvenience? Yes it is,” he said. “But when the project’s all said and done it’s going to be a great project.”

Contact technology reporter William Schertz at [email protected].