By Lance Lysowski
KENT: After 20 years of ongoing repairs and about $19 million in state funding, the Crain Avenue pedestrian bridge linking the Portage Hike and Bike Trail to downtown is nearing completion.
According to City Engineer Jim Bowling, the bridge was inspected two weeks ago and will be completed sometime in August. The bridge, which was once struck by a train and was deemed structurally unsound, was replaced with the new structure for several reasons: it will carry major phone and water utilities to the neighborhood around Crain Avenue, as well as solving safety issues that have been a problem for decades.
“It’s a very fulfilling moment to see a project that started as a simple bridge rehabilitation back in 1994 reach full completion here almost 20 years later,” Bowling said.
The bridge will connect downtown Kent to the Portage Hike and Bike Trail, as well as connecting to several other trails that run through Akron and other parts of Eastern Ohio. Barring setbacks or inclement weather, residents will be able to use the bridge to easily access the trail from the North end of the city.
The state of Ohio is managing the project, which has included four phases: demolition of the original Crain Avenue Bridge, construction of the Fairchild Avenue Bridge, realignment of the intersection where Crain Avenue meets Water Street and finally, the pedestrian bridge.
“It’s a big day for the city of Kent to get all of the problems solved that were part of the goal of this project; specifically congestion on Route 43, safety issues along the bridge, as well as replacing a structurally unsound bridge that is now gone,” Bowling said. “It will be a very big day for us.”