The new Fairchild Avenue bridge has been open for just over a month and motorists seem to be settling in to the new traffic patterns. The initial traffic counts suggest that those patterns are consistent with the what the engineers had in mind when they designed the bridge — which was move traffic through the intersection safely and quickly, and where possible discourage thru traffic from cutting through the adjacent neighborhoods.
According to the traffic counters, so far so good. There’s less traffic cutting thru the Crain Avenue neighborhood (almost a 50% reduction), more traffic is driving thru downtown Kent, and there’s less congestion at the intersection for all traffic movements. Considering the project isn’t done yet, these are all good indicators.
That’s not to say everything is running perfectly and there’s plenty of tweaking that will continue to go on, but fundamentally traffic is flowing more efficiently and safer. The traffic counters will also continue to monitor the traffic patterns to make sure the signal timing is optimized to achieve the goals of all the project, and to add signs where appropriate.
Being the largest bridge project in the history of Portage County, it’s no surprise that we held an appropriate ribbon cutting ceremony that included as many of the local dignitaries that could join us on a chilly morning in October.
The Mayor officially christened the bridge, being the first to drive across it in an antique car but the truth be told, technically, George, our local wheelchair celebrity, beat the Mayor across the bridge in his chair to much applause.
I’m sure all of the local dignitaries presumed that they were the first to get a chance to walk the bridge, but in the interest of full disclosure, a group of Boy Scouts performed a complete inspection of the bridge prior to the offiical opening — just to make sure everything was in good worker order for the opening.
Call it our soft bridge opening, where we figured if it could stand up to the scrutiny of 12 energetic scouts, it was ready for anything.
Here’s some images from the Scout bridge inspection (Jim, City Engineer, is the tall one) —