A project next year will bring major changes to Fifth Avenue, one of the city’s main thoroughfares.
“Aesthetically, it’s going to be a very large improvement,” said Brian Hughes, senior project manager for MS Consultants Inc., the Youngstown company serving as the consultant on the Fifth Avenue project. “It’s going to be transformational. Fifth Avenue was built when we had two to three times the motor travel we have now.”
The Fifth Avenue work and another project to replace 11 traffic signals and remove seven others in and around downtown were the focus of a Tuesday public open house at the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments office, 100 E. Federal St.
The Fifth Avenue project, from Federal Street to Madison Avenue, will cost about $6 million.
The project is expected to start in February or March 2020 and be done by August of that year, said Charles Shasho, the city’s deputy director of public works.
“The goal is to better connect downtown to the [Youngstown State] university,” he said.
The project would reduce the number of lanes – currently at four, five and six – to three with one in each direction and a turning lane.
There’s also the addition of bus pull-off and transit-waiting areas, new sidewalks, pedestrian safety lighting and crossing signals, decorative crosswalks, bicycle lanes, streetscape work, new lighting and a path for an autonomous bus shuttle.
“The project will enhance the area,” Shasho said.
Councilman Julius T. Oliver, D-1st, whose ward includes the area for both projects, said he’s excited to see them complete.
“With the streetscape, it will make traffic flow better and bring more people to Fifth Avenue,” he said. “This will draw more people into downtown. It will be a great thing for not just downtown, but for the entire city.”
The street will be open with lane restrictions during construction.
The open house for the two projects attracted about 25 people, mostly those who work or live on or near Fifth Avenue.
Oliver said the city plans to have a forum to hopefully attract more residents to talk about the projects.
The other project includes replacing 11 traffic lights – primarily along Fifth and Wick avenues – and remove seven others – primarily along Front Street and Wick Avenue.
A traffic study determined the seven lights are no longer needed, Shasho said.
The signals being replaced are at least 20 years old, he said.
“The purpose of removing and replacing the lights is to get traffic moving through the corridors,” Shasho said.
That work will cost about $1 million to $2 million and will be done in 2021.