— A major intersection at the northside of downtown Akron will be temporarily closed starting Monday, Feb. 6. The intersection of Main, Howard, and Perkins Streets and Martin Luther King Boulevard will be closed as the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) work on the first phase of the Innerbelt Project on State Route 59 begins.
Known as the Oak Park Renewal Project, it will last for an estimated six months and will exponentially increase the safety of both the intersection and 59, according to ODOT.
“The SR 59 corridor, along with the intersection where State Route 59 and North Main Street meet, have the highest crash rates in the area,” said John Moore, Director of Public Service. “Once this project is complete, the corridor and that intersection will be much safer for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.”
The removal of the Innnerbelt has been named the Oak Park Renewal Project because it will serve to reconnect the historic Oak Park neighborhood (around Glendale cemetery) to downtown Akron. When the Innerbelt was certified in 1969, it artificially cut this area off from the city’s urban core, leading to disinvestment. In addition to the significant safety benefits, the Oak Park Renewal Project will reverse that trend and will better link downtown with these adjoining neighborhoods, according to the city of Akron.
The project will affect Northside businesses, which will be a bit more difficult to access, but tenants of the district, like Jilly’s Music Room, NOTO North and Luigi’s remind residents that the businesses will be accessible from the east end of the neighborhood by turning onto Furnace Street from Summit (off Perkins or Market) or North Street (from Howard or roads to the east), and from the north by turning onto Ridge Street from Howard. (See map for details.)
Future uses being considered for the restored space include potential redevelopment as a residential area with green space, and possibly the construction of a water feature, among a number of other ideas.
In conjunction with the closure for the Oak Park Renewal project, the city of Akron will be performing an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated sewer separation project on the same intersection that will eliminate 39 combined sewer overflows or 4.1 million gallons of overflow in a typical year. The work is part of the Old Main Sewer Separation (CSO Rack 21), currently taking place in that section of town.
“We worked very closely with ODOT to ensure that the intersection was only closed one time and for the shortest duration possible,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “Both the City and ODOT are committed to improving our public infrastructure, while simultaneously enhancing public safety.”
Signs alerting drivers to the upcoming closure will be posted in the area starting this week. Information about the closure along with maps showing different detours will be available at DriveAkron.com. For questions or concerns, please contact the Mayor’s Action Center at (330) 375-2311 or 3-1-1.