AKRON, Ohio – Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan announced Friday that the first phase of the major overhaul of Main Street downtown has reached its final weeks of construction and is expected to be open to drivers and pedestrians by the end of the month.
Two-way traffic is now open from Cedar Street to Buchtel Avenue, and from Market Street to Bowery Street, the city reported. Crews are completing surface and utility work along the final stretch, between Buchtel Avenue to Bowery Street, which is on track to open for two-way traffic by the week of Sept. 28.
Pedestrian access on both sides of Main Street is expected to be “substantially complete” by the end of September, Horrigan’s office said.
The $31 million project, which spans Cedar to Mill streets, began in July 2018 and included repaving, installing traffic signals, creating a roundabout at Main and Mill streets and improving underground utilities.
Once the pavement work is complete, a 12-foot-tall statue of a rubber worker by sculptor Alan Cottrill will be installed at the center of the roundabout. The statue was paid for by the city, Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro’s office, Huntington Bank, PNC, FirstEnergy, Akron Children’s Hospital and the GPD Group.
To provide historical context about the statue and Akron’s rubber history, resident Miriam Ray and the Art x Love arts collective organized the “Rubber Worker Stories Project.” Across from the statue will be a plaza paved with commemorative bricks dedicated to Akron’s rubber workers, and will include a kiosk for visitors to view and listen to archival footage and oral histories about the history of the Rubber City.
In addition to reopening for vehicle and foot traffic, Main Street’s revitalization will include a new designated outdoor refreshment area, or DORA, on the 100-200 block, near Lock 3 and the Akron Civic Theatre.
The DORA is a district where people can buy alcoholic beverages from permitted establishments and drink them outside. Akron’s DORA is set to open on Oct. 1, the city said.
But more Main Street construction is on the way, with the second phase of the project on track to break ground later this month.
The $13.5 million “Phase 2,” from Mill Street to Ohio 59, is set to include turn lanes at Market Street and Ohio 59; a lane on each side of the street for parallel parking, short term deliveries or buses; a continuation of a bike path connecting to the Towpath Trail; new sidewalks and crosswalks, including one near the main library; LED lighting; utility upgrades; and improvements to aesthetics and amenities, including space for sidewalk cafes, the city said.
Construction on the roadway is slated to begin next year, with estimated completion in early 2022. The contractor is Stow-based Karvo Companies.
“We are excited to move forward with Phase 2 to provide a consistent and improved experience for vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles moving through Main Street,” said Chris Ludle, Akron’s director of public service. “In 2020, all construction on Phase 2 will be limited to sidewalks, and the roadway will remain open during this early portion of the project.”