Only about a month remains until the Kent project that replaced the Crain Avenue Bridge with a pedestrian bridge linking the Portage Hike and Bike Trail to downtown is complete.
Kent City Engineer Jim Bowling said the project, which is managed by the state of Ohio, will likely wrap up around mid to late August.
"The bridge was inspected about two weeks ago," Bowling said, noting that the inspection will allow the bridge to open to the public soon.
All that's left, he said, is to install fencing on the slope leading to the bridge from the hike and bike trail, install railings and pave the path from the west side of the bridge that heads under the Fairchild Avenue Bridge and on to downtown Kent.
One of the primary reasons for installing a pedestrian bridge in place of the previous bridge was to avoid redirecting the phone lines and water lines that run underneath to cross the river, Bowling said.
The pedestrian bridge is one facet of a four-year, $25 million project that removed the aging Crain Avenue Bridge, constructed the Fairchild Avenue Bridge, realigned the intersection where Crain Avenue, Water and Lake streets meet and extended the hike and bike trail.
"The project is really a transformational impact for those entering town from Cleveland and Aurora from the north," Bowling said. "It really solved one of the worst congestion problems, one of the biggest accident intersection locations and replaced a bridge that had fallen twice in the past and been struck by a train."
The "icing on the cake," Bowling said, was being able to finally link the bike trail to Brady's Leap leading to downtown Kent, and landscaping the hillside between S.R. 43 and the path, just south of the Fairchild Avenue Bridge.
"That is an extremely vital segment and an extremely difficult segment duo to the railroad tracks. The fact that it was able to be incorporated in with this project just made it a complete project for the northern entrance," Bowling said, noting that the new landscaped hillside includes a storm water treatment component to improve water quality of runoff water before it goes into the Cuyahoga River.
About $19 million of the project's funding came through grants by the Ohio Department of Transportation, Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study and the County Engineers Association of Ohio.
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