YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – By coordinating with its partners, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments spearheaded over $32 million in investments in the Mahoning Valley in 2021.
The projects included the Smart2 Build project in Youngstown, removal of the Struthers Dam, the Mahoning Avenue Bikeway, and a state safety pedestrian priority plan.
In addition to these new investments, Eastgate was awarded nearly $14 million in grants, planned over $1.3 million in feasibility studies, and added over $8 million in construction funding.
Jim Kinnick, executive director, says this regional vision also led to eight major projects totaling more than $104 million. They include the state Route 46/82 interchange upgrade, Western Reserve Road widening from Interstate 680 to Market Street, upgrades to the Boardman corridor of U.S. Route 224, removal of dams along the Mahoning River, and the planned resurfacing of Interstate 680 in Youngstown.
To help the region emerge from the pandemic stronger than before, affordable and reliable broadband service must be made available for residents and businesses, Kinnick says. A feasibility study to accomplish this task was completed in 2021 and the initiatives will be implemented in 2022. They include pursuing the installation of a high-speed fiber line along state Route 11 from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.
Looking to the future of the region, Eastgate is developing its 2050
Metropolitan Transportation Plan, a long-range planning document identifying transportation needs, projects, and policies over the next three decades. The transportation plan is updated every five years and is dependent on the involvement of members of the communities in the Eastgate planning area as well as local, state and federal agencies. Keeping the plan up to date keeps Mahoning and Trumbull counties eligible to receive federal transportation funding for relevant projects. The process of developing the 2050 plan will continue through 2022 and will be completed in 2023.
“The success experienced in 2021 is an example of collaboration as a region to work with one common vision moving forward,” Kinnick says. “We will continue to address equitable planning and development to improve the quality of life for Mahoning Valley residents.”
Eastgate Regional Council of Governments is an association of cities, villages and townships in Ashtabula, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
With a staff of 16, it brings communities together to create a unified voice in areas such as transportation, water and air quality, land use planning, and infrastructure projects. It is also directly responsible for a variety of federal, state and local planning and project implementation programs.
As a metropolitan planning organization, an areawide water quality management agency, an economic development district, and an Appalachian Regional Commission Local Development District, Eastgate maintains required certifications and planning documents to qualify the region for federal and state funding.
Pictured: A rendering of the Phelps Street project, with inset of how it looks now.