Economic Development

City Awards $491K Design Contract for SMART2 Project

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Preliminary design work for $26 million in downtown road projects should begin immediately with approval Thursday morning of a $490,829 contract.

At its Tuesday meeting, the city’s Board of Control approved the contract with Akron-based PDM Group, which has an office in Youngstown, to perform preliminary design engineering services related to developing the Smart2 – Strategic & Sustainable, Medical & Manufacturing, Academic & Arts, Residential & Recreational, Technology & Training – Network.

The city’s share of the contract is $70,000.

In December, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the $10.8 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or Build, grant to a group of local partners led by the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments and the city for upgrades to Fifth Avenue and several other downtown streets. In addition to the road, lighting and landscaping upgrades, the grant will fund an autonomous shuttle service.   

“We’re excited to have the consultant on board and really ramp up our efforts,” said Jim Kinnick, Eastgate’s executive director. 

Eastgate is acting as project manager for the local partners, which include Youngstown State University, Western Reserve Transit Authority and Mercy Health Youngstown. Stakeholders have been meeting biweekly, he said.  

PDM will get started “immediately,” said Charles Shasho, the city’s deputy director of public works. The firm will begin researching utilities, right-of-way and other infrastructure issues and develop conceptual designs that eventually will be presented to the public and downtown stakeholders at two public meetings. After that, PDM will present “a couple of different concepts for each road,” Shasho said. 

“Our goal is we want to have bid documents ready in spring of 2020,” he said. 

The project will be bid as design-build, which both Kinnick and Shasho said should allow it to move along more swiftly. Design work is already completed for Fifth Avenue, which was conceived as a separate upgrade project before the Build grant was awarded, so construction can being on that part of the project and engineers can work on the next street selected.

“I’m going to push to have Front Street done next, right after Fifth,” Shasho said. 

The local partners are looking to have the work completed by the end of 2021. “That’s an aggressive schedule but that’s what we’re shooting for,” Kinnick said. “That’s why we’re doing it as a design-build.”    

Pictured: A rendering of potential upgrades to Fifth Avenue as part of the Build grant.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.