Akron Officials Celebrate Start of Main Street Corridor Project

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Akron-area officials are celebrating the early weeks of what has been dubbed the “Main Street Corridor Project.”

At a news conference Wednesday, officials including Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Congressman Tim Ryan gave kudos to the various public and private entities behind the $31 million effort, which is aimed at attracting more people and businesses to the street (also known as King James Way, after LeBron). 

The area isn’t so much getting a facelift as it is undergoing reconstructive surgery: among the many improvements planned are new roundabouts, bike lanes, street lights, and a water feature. The underground electric grid and storm drainage system will also be overhauled.

Construction on the $31 million Main Street Corridor Project began in July. [Adrian Ma / ideastream]

William Scala, CEO of Kenmore Construction, the project's main contractor, said the changes will make Main Street an “exciting” place to be.

“I know for those of us who’ve been in Akron a long time, the phrases ‘Main Street’ and ‘exciting’ don't go together, but I think it will happen this time,” Scala said.

Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13, left), Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan (Center), and Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro. [Adrian Ma / ideastream]

Although Wednesday’s event was billed as a “groundbreaking,” the ground along Akron’s main street is, in fact, already broken: phase 1 of the two-phase project began in July. And on a recent morning, the construction zone, a dirt trench that radiates from the corner of Mill Street and Main Street, was humming with bulldozer and crane activity.

John Picuri, Deputy Director at the Ohio Department of Transportation, acknowledged the ongoing construction may be an inconvenience, but said it would be worth the time and expense.

The construction will include an overhaul of electrical and sewer infrastructure. [Adrian Ma / ideastream]

“These aren’t short-term hit and miss projects,” Picuri said. “These are well thought out, major projects that are going to, not only going to affect us for a few years. These, I believe, are going to affect us for an entire generation.”

Roughly half the cost is being paid for by federal transportation infrastructure grants. In 2016, Akron was awarded a $5 million grant from the federal government's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. In early 2018, it was awarded an another TIGER grant for $8 million.

Phase 1 of the reconstruction is scheduled to be complete by 2020.

According to the City of Akron, Phase 2 will extend the improvements to an additional segment of Main Street from Mill Street to Perkins Street and Route 59.

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