With all of the exciting accolades for the downtown projects it would be easy to forget that we just completed the largest bridge project in Portage County’s history with our new Fairchild Avenue Bridge.
It turns out that the Association of Bridge Contractors and Designers (ABCD) took notice of our project and have selected the project for the Outstanding New Short Span Bridge Award for central and northeast Ohio for 2013.
Maybe an ABCD award doesn’t have as much celebrity cache as the America in Bloom or International Town/Gown awards but it’s always nice to be recognized by experts in their respective fields for a job well done. I’ve been involved in about a dozen bridge projects in my career and I can honestly say that the Kent project was far more impressive than any other bridge project I’ve ever been a part of.
The Fairchild Bridge Project is a great example of how to use infrastructure to do so much more than get across a river — and to that extent it’s very much an extension of our effort to make Kent a destination and design great public space in everything we do.
The SR43/Fairchild intersection is a primary gateway into our community and the new bridge conveys a great first impression about our community as a place that values an active lifestyle with hiking, biking, and access to the river; values the natural environmental with hundreds of plantings and visible stormwater management features; values aesthetic design with the unique curved lines of the bridge and attractive bridge elements; and of course values safe, modern transportation structures.
To me, it’s the little bit extra that people see in and around the bridge that reinforces the Kent brand as being that unique place with a little bit of extra all over town.
At the staff level we are very aware of the power of that brand statement in making Kent a destination of choice for visitors, residents and businesses and we work hard to make sure everything we do in urban design has a uniqueness to it that is hard to find anywhere else in our region and makes it “Unmistakably Kent.”
I think we’ve learned that “extra” doesn’t always mean more money; it often just means doing something a little different that it is noticeable — and thanks to the resourcefulness of our staff when the “extra’s” do cost more we’ve been able to get it done using outside dollars.
The more we can position Kent as that place with a little “extra” difference in northeast Ohio the stronger our market position and the brighter our economic future. It’s not necessarily unusual to see this sort of “extra” work done in big city projects but truthfully it often gets lost in the clutter of big cities. Our difference is that we’re doing it on a human scale which as we’ve seen can have an immediate and dramatic impact.
In that way, the bridge project is another great showcase for what makes Kent such a great small town.