Support from Local Leaders Boosts Smart2 Proposal

City Hires Contractor to Oversee Fifth Avenue Upgrade

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Work on the first phase of a $26 million downtown roadway project should begin sometime after Independence Day, said deputy director of public works Charles Shasho.

The city’s Board of Control approved Thursday a $679,894 contract with Environmental Design Group Inc., Westerville, to provide construction engineering services for the first phase of the Smart2 – Strategic & Sustainable, Medical & Manufacturing, Academic & Arts, Residential & Recreational, Technology & Training – Network project. 

Smart2 is an initiative to make infrastructure, safety and aesthetic improvements to several streets in the downtown area. The project received a $10.85 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or Build, grant program.

The first phase is a major upgrade to Fifth Avenue from West Federal Street to the Madison Avenue Expressway. Last month, the city awarded Parella-Pannunzio Inc. a $6.9 million contract for the work, which will include reducing the number of lanes on Fifth Avenue, installing storm sewers and duct banks, and traffic signals and other safety upgrades. 

Parella-Pannunzio probably won’t begin work until after July 4, Shasho said, though he has not received the company’s schedule yet. 

The second phase of the project will involve infrastructure improvements on Commerce, Federal, Front and Phelps streets and Park Avenue. A third phase will involve implementation of an autonomous shuttle service in the downtown area.  

Environmental Design Group will provide oversight for the Smart2 Network project. The work is being divided into a separate contract for each phase of the project, Shasho said. 

A group that included the city, Youngstown State University, the city of Youngstown, Western Reserve Transit Authority, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments and Mercy Health-Youngstown partnered to apply for the federal funds and raised nearly $11 million in in-kind matches for the grant.

Shasho said he expects Fifth Avenue, one of the main roadways providing access to Youngstown State University, to remain open with lane restrictions except for “isolated instances” during the project. “We might have to do a couple intermittent closures, but generally the road is wide enough to maintain traffic,” Shasho said.

Pictured: A rendering of the upgrades to Fifth Avenue as part of the Smart2 Network.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.