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S. Willow traffic study makes sense

city needs information before acting on bid to vacate street

Published: December 21, 2012 4:00 AM

Kent State University's

request for the city of Kent to do a traffic study of the area near the intersection of South Willow and East Main Streets and Haymaker Parkway is a reasonable request and we hope one is undertaken soon.

The study would provide good insight and information regarding the consequences of a proposal that is being floated to close South Willow Street between Main Street and the intersection of College Avenue.

Kent State owns all of the land along South Willow Street in this area, except for one parcel. The university has invested nearly $10 million in acquiring these properties as part of its efforts to create an Esplanade that links the campus to downtown Kent. In that context, the idea of closing that small portion of South Willow Street makes sense. It would strengthen the Esplanade and encourage the thousands who come to the campus nearly every day to utilize the services the downtown offers.

Actually, abandoning a street to enhance a campus is nothing new. Several years ago, Hiram College persuaded the village of Hiram to vacate Bancroft Street so two parts of the campus could be attractively knitted together. About the same time, the University of Akron asked the city of Akron to close off a portion of Buchtel Avenue for the same reason. Akron complied. In both cases, those municipalities gained considerably even though, admittedly, vehicular traffic was a bit inconvenienced. We are sure other similar examples at other institutions of higher learning can easily be found.

The idea of the Esplanade is to contribute to a pedestrian-friendly Kent, one that encourages students, staff and professors to walk into the downtown and, conversely, visitors in the downtown to walk toward the campus. The city of Kent already has vacated the stretch of Erie Street that was located off Willow Street. Obviously, Haymaker Parkway cannot be abandoned.It carries too much traffic and, in fact, since its construction in the mid-1970s has functioned as a barrier that has separated the campus from the community. South Willow Street, in that respect, is one more barrier.

Intuitively, closing that portion of South Willow Street between the Main Street intersection and College Avenue make sense in the context of a pedestrian-friendly community. Nevertheless, a traffic study will provide much needed insights and can help the city make the right decision.

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anonymous Dec 21, 2012 11:12 AM

Sure does. The traffic engineers did a great job with the new light system on Rt 59, except they blew it for this intersection (and also Main and Lincoln). Folks coming from downtown Kent who have to stop at Rt 59 and Willow cannot make the green light at Lincoln once the 59 & Willow street light turns green UNLESS they act like a drag racer and pollute the atmosphere. The timing at this intersection is all wrong. AND, if you're headed east on 59, stopped at Main & Willow, when you get the green light, guaranteed you'll have to stop or go 5 MPH in order to get a green like at the Lincoln street & 59 intersection. This light turns green too late by 5 or 10 seconds, and as I said before, it turns red almost as soon as we poor folks get their green light coming east on Main. The rest of 59 all the way across Kent seems really well timed, but they really blew it here. Maybe if they closed Willow St going South, they could change the timing to work out these kinks? How do I get this issue raised to the traffic engineers?