American Society of Highway Engineers (ASHE) Cuyahoga Valley Section
Fifth Avenue, a central corridor through downtown Youngstown, Ohio, connects major destinations from Mercy Health Center to Youngstown State University (YSU) to the business district. Previously, Fifth Avenue’s infrastructure was developed for a vehicle-centric city with different transit needs than the Youngstown of today. In recent years, Fifth Avenue has seen a significant decrease in vehicle traffic, which led to this six-lane road being a great candidate for a “road diet.”
A road diet is just another phrase used to describe a lane reduction. This technique removes travel lanes and uses the spaces for other uses and travel modes. Incorporating this process translates into improving safety for a pedestrian and bicycle friendly environment.
ms consultants kicked off the project with a campus-wide pedestrian safety and mobility study at YSU. Following the study, the ms team partnered with AECOM to develop the infrastructure prioritization plan. The plan and subsequent funding resulted in the project being dubbed a SMART2 project.
SMART2 stands for strategic and sustainable, medical and manufacturing, academic and arts, residential and recreational, and technology and training. Additionally, SMART2-designated projects have goals to improve safety, enhance mobility, and integrate technology.
The Fifth Avenue road diet reduced the number of lanes to one through lane in each direction and turn lanes in intersections. The through lanes will also be shared with bicyclists and are indicated through pavement markings. The remainder of the existing lanes were repurposed to increase pedestrian safety and enhance the overall aesthetic. Additionally, bus pull-off lanes and a 10-foot, shared-use path were added.
The award-winning Fifth Avenue project became phase 1 of the SMART2 enhancements project. SMART2 projects create a modern and multimodal system that is responsive and adaptive to current and future times. Fifth Avenue set the design parameters for the remainder of these enhancements, including six other street designs for downtown Youngstown. Phase 1 was completed in November of 2021.
Project funding was sought after by all project partners for the Fifth Avenue rehabilitation and safety upgrades.
Thanks to a successful U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) grant application, the project received a $10.85 million BUILD Grant. The application was centered on improving transportation connections in the downtown Youngstown area.
This $27.6 million dollar project was funding through the BUILD Grant, committed federal funds, a non-federal match, and locally committed funds. An investment in downtown Youngstown and keeping its pedestrians safe.
Photo credit: AECOM