A very different Crain Avenue will greet drivers turning off the new Fairchild Avenue Bridge when it opens to traffic this morning.
Crain Avenue's intersection with Lake and North Water streets was redesigned as part of the bridge project to try and cut down on the number of drivers cutting through the Crain Avenue neighborhoods from S.R. 43 on their way to Kent State University and the eastern side of Kent.
Kent City Engineer Jim Bowling said between 10,000 and 11,000 cars drive through the area on an average day.
"One of the goals determined by the city in the planning stages of the project was to try to protect and preserve the residential area that’s in Crain Avenue from Water Street to S.R. 59," Bowling said.
Officially, the intersection won't open until Monday.
The intersection and its streetscape was redesigned to make Crain Avenue look more like a subdivision or neighborhood with no outlet. Curbs and a new monument identifying the neighborhood help give drivers that iimpression.
Bowling said the new bridge's orientation reflats that goal. The new bridge lands a few hundred feet south of Crain Avenue, whereas the old bridge directs traffic directly onto Crain Avenue.
"We wanted to give the impression to those who are traveling through town that this is the entrance to a neighborhood .. to let them know this isn’t a place for through traffic," Bowling said.
The new intersection, along with North Water Street and Lake Street, will reopen with the new bridge. The old Crain Avenue Bridge will close permanently to traffic today as workers prepare for its demolition.
Bowling said he's hopeful the new intersection, combined with signs directing people towards campus via S.R. 59, will reduce traffic on Crain Avenue.
"I think those who used the route during the construction will realize how quick and easy it is to drive down S.R. 59 from S.R. 43," he said. "I believe that residential monument area will at least detract a few people from thinking that it’s a through route."