Kent previews 2021 infrastructure projects

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This has been a busy year for capital construction projects in Kent, according to city officials.

The year got off to an unusual start, according to City Engineer Jim Bowling. The city was able to bid on eight projects before costs started to climb. As a result, over $1 million was saved as the city was able to bid for $8 million worth of work for 15% less than expected.

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A long-awaited update to Kent Fire Station No. 2, located on North Mantua Street, will include a new roof and addition to the building. The new peaked roof will provide space for new HVAC equipment and ductwork. The new roofline will also mimic the roofing of residential houses surrounding the station.

Work on the building will be completed in December and will be usable by teams at that time, Bowling said. However, the generator for the building will not be delivered until May due to supply chain issues. Costs for the update totaled $615,000.

The city has also nearly completed updating the Brady’s Leap segment of the Portage Hike and Bike Trail, which is open for use. The project, totaling $1.4 million, was 60% funded by grants from the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Supply chain issues affected the installation of a staircase between the Main Street Bridge and the pathway. The new entrance on Gougler Avenue is however open.

Bowling also broke down several updates to city streets. Chronic flooding had been a problem in the Miller Avenue, Steele Street and Harvey Avenue area since it joined the city in 2007. The problem was finally resolved this year with the completion of work construction on storms and water improvements in September.

The project cost $1.2 million and was 50% funded by the Ohio Public Works Commission. Shortly after completion, Bowling said, there was a rainstorm that had the potential to flood the basement of a property in the Miller area. Bowling said he visited the site and confirmed the fix worked as expected.

Work on North Water Street from October 2020 through July 2021 was primarily funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Work on the $1.43 million project was primarily driven by a goal of reducing vehicle speeds.

Before the project, Bowling said, the number of people driving 20 miles per hour or less was only about 13%. Since completion, this percentage has nearly tripled to 37%. Trees should soon be planted in this area, he said.

The first phase of Walnut Street reconstruction was completed in November. From Cherry Street to Harris Street, a new sidewalk, curbs, storm sewers, new water main and sidewalks were added. The update was part of a long-term program that began around 2007. Part of its scope includes neighborhoods and maintaining their infrastructure, Bowling said.

The project cost $400,000 and was 60% funded by the Community Block Development Grant Program. Harris from West Street to Franklin Avenue also saw a $500,000 update funded 50% by the OPWC.

Various roads were ground and resurfaced as part of the annual streets and sidewalks program. A contract was also awarded for the rehabilitation of the roadway. Work will begin in the spring of 2022. The construction cost of the program has been announced at $1 million. Construction is expected to be completed in August 2022.

Work at the Kent Water Reclamation Facility and the city’s pump stations was expected to become a priority this year, Bowling said. Completing the emergency rehabilitation of a primary clarifier this year cost $480,000. Just under half of this amount was paid by an insurance settlement. Work had to be done on one of the city’s two clarifiers when the mechanical guards failed and damaged the equipment beyond repair, Bowling said.

The replacement of the sanitary pumping station in the southwest part of the city is currently underway. The $2 million project began in October and is expected to be completed in May 2022. A loan from the Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance covered the entire cost of the project.

The City is aware that work on its other clarifier will need to be addressed in the coming years. In total, Bowling said, the facility’s needs over the next five to 10 years are expected to cost more than $14.4 million. Grants are already being sought.

For 2022, Bowling said Kent will have the same two primary goals: streets and sidewalks.

The annual streets and sidewalks program is entirely funded by the city budget. ODOT will also help resurface Route 43 in the north end of the city. Middlebury Road is also due to be resurfaced next year. Kent was also able to secure a grant for the emergency resurfacing of Main Street and South Water Street in Kent town centre.

These four projects total $3.3 million invested in streets and sidewalks in 2022, Bowling said. Further work on the South West Sanitary Pumping Station and Water Reclamation Facility is also within sight of Kent.

Contact reporter Kaitlyn McGarvey with Kent News by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @kaitlynmcg_rc

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