Renovations to Youngstown’s downtown area could be coming sooner than originally thought.
Tuesday afternoon marked the first time the public had a chance to tell city officials how they feel about the renovations. The nearly $26 million investment is set to bring a number of new things.
The reaction from community members was mostly positive. Some people at Tuesday’s forum were hearing about the renovations for the first time.
“I was interested in seeing the plans for it because I hadn’t actually seen them yet,” Bryant Youngblood said.
Youngstown Public Works Director Chuck Shasho gave an update on the timeline for the downtown renovation project, which includes road improvements and two self-driving buses.
Last December, city leaders said it would take about seven years, but now that timeline has been moved up significantly.
“I’d say three to four years, maybe into five years, but I think that’s a reasonable timeframe to get this construction completed,” Shasho said.
If they stay on schedule, the city will start improving Fifth Avenue in March of 2020. Then they’ll replace or remove several traffic lights. After that, improvements to Front Street in 2021. From there, several other improvements will be made to Federal Street, Rayen Avenue and Commerce Street.
One major improvement is reducing the number of lanes on Fifth Avenue near YSU.
“It will be safe for the students to cross the streets more. I think that will be a great opportunity for students,” Kayla Venters said.
“I’ve worked in city hall for about six years now. I’ve been walking to work at least three days a week. Fifth Avenue is my primary route coming in,” Rick Alcorn said.
“I don’t like how they just want to take the lights out,” Rasheeda Aslam said.
The city wants to remove seven traffic lights:
– Wick Avenue at Spring Street
– Wick Avenue at Lincoln Avenue
– Wick Avenue at Wood Street
– W. Front Street at Marshall Street
– W. Front Street at S. Phelps Street
– Boardman Street at Market Street
– E. Front Street at Walnut Street
The ones being taken out aren’t needed anymore.
“They don’t carry as much traffic as they did historically. Traffic patterns around Youngstown have changed throughout the years,” said GPD Group developer Ryan Gillespie.
“They’re outdated. Most of them are incandescent lights. We’re using LED lights, GPS-coordinated. They’ll be semi-actuated with sensors. It’s a huge improvement. It’s going to help traffic move through the corridors,” Shasho said.
Six other lights will be replaced with new ones.
Most of this project takes place in the First Ward. Councilman Julius Oliver hopes his work bringing the project downtown will spur more growth.
“Ultimately, being able to use these projects to leverage, to get more grant money to be able to affect things going on, specifically in the neighborhoods,” he said.
To share your own ideas and opinions about the renovations, email Shasho at firstname.lastname@example.org.