Nightmare on 12th Street NW - Almost Over
The stretch between Monument Road and Mercy Drive NW now set to reopen in early August
CANTON It’s now been a year since 12th Street NW closed.
The stretch between Monument Road and Mercy Drive NW was expected to open three months ago, but much of the roadwork around two bridges remain under construction. City Engineer Dan Moeglin said it’ll likely be early August before 12th Street NW reopens to traffic. Some temporary closings might follow with all work finished by the end of the year.
“All in all, it’s taken a little bit longer, but it should be a wonderful investment in the city,” he said.
Why’s it still closed?
Moeglin said the rock level under ground was lower than expected, which changed plans for laying the bridge foundation over the West Branch of Nimishillen Creek.
Boring samples in the area showed rock at one level, but it dipped in another area before rising back up. Plans had to be adjusted, and crews poured unreinforced concrete up to the level needed for the foundation.
“So, that took quite awhile,” Moeglin said.
Another challenge has been working around the West Lawn Cemetery’s stone wall by the Canton Waterworks Raceway — the smaller creek to the west. Crews also used Stadium Park Drive to reach the site at times.
“It’s been a challenging project because you’ve got two bridges out,” Moeglin said. “It really limits your access.”
A nearly complete bridge spans the Canton Waterworks Raceway, and arches cross the West Branch of Nimishillen Creek. Walls for the West Branch Trail underpass are just east of the arches.
Farther west on 12th Street NW are curbs, sidewalks, guardrail, trees and decorative light poles.
“Most of it’s done up on top of the hill,” Moeglin said.
The road, not yet paved, was straightened within the confines of cemetery wall and the hill’s steep slope. Moeglin warned drivers, though, that it’s still a 25-mph “serpentine hill.”
The street still is 28 feet wide. There’ll be one lane in each direction, instead of two westbound lanes, to accommodate the straightening and sidewalks.
“We have an extra wide sidewalk on the south side of Serpentine Hill,” Moeglin said, adding that it can be shared by pedestrians and bicyclists.
There was a narrow sidewalk there previously. A sidewalk was added to the north side, where Mercy Medical Center occupies the top of the hill.
The cemetery power-washed and trimmed brush from the stone wall along 12th Street NW, where an educational West Park Cemetery sign hangs.
This past week, Beaver Excavating workers prepared to add the approach slabs to the raceway bridge. Others worked on structural pieces for the larger bridge.
The Herbert L. Fisher walking track will cross the bridge while the Stark Parks limestone trail will go under, Moeglin said. The underpass has open sections facing the creek and will be well lit.
“We didn’t want this to be like a tunnel, where people felt closed in,” he said.
Lights, which can change colors for special events or holidays, will illuminate the bridge facade. Moeglin also pointed out a place for a plaque on the underpass wall to honor former Stark County Engineer Michael Rehfus, for whom the bridge will be dedicated.
At ground level, 12th Street NW will be even with the nearby railroad.
“In order to get the bike trail underneath, we had to raise the road a little bit, about 3 feet,” Moeglin said.
The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority also will add bus shelters on either side of the street near the bottom of the hill. Overall, Moeglin said, the work will beautify the area and increase pedestrian and bike access.
“It’s creating a much better entrance to the city,” he said.
How much is it?
The 12th Street NW improvements from Interstate 77 to Monument Road NW have a price tag of $10 million.
Canton contributed about $1 million and Stark County — which owns the bridge over West Branch of Nimishillen Creek — contributed about $200,000 for designs, Moeglin said. State and federal grants are funding the rest.
This is the westernmost portion of a $56 million east-west corridor project started in 2014. The route continues east on 12th Street NE and Mahoning Road NE, ending around Richmond Avenue NE.
The only other section still under construction is on Mahoning Road NE between Middle Branch of Nimishillen Creek and Grace Avenue NE. It’s expected to be complete in 2019, Moeglin said.
The city worked with Belden Brick Co. to salvage bricks from the old road below the pavement for other city projects. Union Metal, which is in the process of reopening under new ownership, provided the decorative street lighting.
What’s been affected?
With the summer closure of the ramps between U.S. Route 62 west to I-77 South and I-77 South to Fulton Road for an Ohio Department of Transportation project, Moeglin said, the 12th Street NW closure is “becoming a bigger and bigger issue” for safety services and Mercy Medical Center.
“So, the contractor’s really pushing to get this open by Hall of Fame,” he said.
Nick Bagnolo, Mercy Medical Center’s vice president of facilities and construction, said city officials have kept him informed of roadwork but limited access has been challenging. With no eastern approach, the hospital only can be accessed from 13th Street NW or Interstate 77 North.
“I think at times, squads probably route around us and go somewhere else because it’s a little difficult to get to (the Emergency Department),” he said.
The work didn’t greatly change the hospital’s property along the road, and Bagnolo said the area looks better. The sidewalks also will provide a connection to the park for staff and patients.
“I think when it’s all said and done, it’s going to be an improvement,” he said.
The street intersects Stadium and Monument parks, limiting the entrances to Fulton Road NW in the north or Seventh Street NW in the south. Canton Parks and Recreation had its annual holiday light display, but drivers had to turn around rather than drive through.
Director Doug Foltz said that’s probably been the largest event affected by the closure, which also has prompted pedestrians and bicyclists to change course.
“The biggest challenge has been the walking track and the limestone trail not being available to cross over into Monument Park,” he said.
It’s a small inconvenience and most parkgoers have been understanding, Foltz said. He expects the improvements to be worth the wait.
“Afterwards, it’s going to be an improvement that’s going to be enjoyed by the community for 40, 50 years,” he said.
Reach Kelly at 330-580-8323
On Twitter: @kbyerREP
Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2018