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Traffic enhancement

Youngstown to award $16M contract for overhaul of downtown streets

This is a view of Front Street looking east toward Market Street in downtown Youngstown. The city’s board of control is expected Thursday to award a nearly $16 million contract for significant improvements to several downtown streets, including Front Street.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

Staff writer

YOUNGSTOWN — The city’s board of control is expected Thursday to award a nearly $16 million contract for significant improvements to several downtown streets — including Front, Commerce and Federal — through 2023.

“This is a huge undertaking,” said Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works. “We’re going to be very busy. It’s going to be transformational.”

Two companies submitted proposals for the work with Marucci and Gaffney Excavating Co. of Youngstown turning in the apparent low bid of $15,791,100. The other proposal of $18,350,000 came from S.E.T. Inc. of Lowellville.

The city had estimated the project to cost $18,390,500.

After discussing the proposal with Marucci and Gaffney, Shasho said: “I’m very happy with the price. We had a pre-award meeting and we’re confident about the price. They’re comfortable with it. We’ll recommend award (to board of control) for Thursday and we’ll move forward from there.”

PROJECT PHASES

The work will be done in phases starting this spring and going through 2023, Shasho said.

Projects this year include paving Fifth Avenue from the Madison Avenue Expressway to Park Avenue, Park Avenue from Fifth Avenue to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, and Phelps Street from Federal Street to the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.

There also will be separate waterline replacement projects this summer on Commerce Street from Fifth Avenue to Champion Street, and on Front Street from Vindicator Square to South Avenue.

The next significant improvement work, Shasho said, will occur in 2022 to Front Street from Vindicator Square to South Avenue.

That work was supposed to start this year, but was delayed until 2022 because the waterline project on that stretch of road was postponed.

The Front Street project includes paving, new lighting, streetscaping, adding a multi-use path and reducing what is now two to three lanes in each direction to one in each direction with a turning lane. Some traffic lights on the road were removed last year.

Also next year, Commerce Street from Fifth Avenue to Federal Street will be paved with streetscape work and sidewalk improvements, Shasho said.

IN 2023

In 2023, extensive work will be done to Federal Street from Fifth Avenue to Walnut Street.

That project includes paving, improved lighting, widening the sidewalk and possibly eliminating diagonal parking spots and replacing them with parallel spots.

Also in 2023, paving work will be done to Rayen Avenue from Fifth Avenue to Walnut Street.

All of this is part of a $26 million to $31 million comprehensive project to improve streets downtown and near it.

“There will be closures and lane restrictions here and there,” Shasho said. “Sometimes a closure is necessary to speed a project up.”

The city, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Youngstown State University, Mercy Health-Youngstown and the Western Reserve Transit Authority announced Dec. 6, 2018, that they had received a $10.85 million federal BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) grant for its SMART2 (Strategic and Sustainable, Medical and Manufacturing, Academic and Arts, Residential and Recreation, and Technology and Training) Network.

The rest of the money is coming from other federal and state funds as well as dollars and in-kind services from the project’s partners.

The project was initially estimated to cost $26 million, but after further engineering work was done, it increased to $31 million.

However, with Marucci and Gaffney’s proposal being $2.6 million under the estimate and the ongoing first phase on Fifth Avenue being about $1.5 million below the city’s estimate, the work could end up being close to the initial $26 million price.

FIFTH AVENUE

Work on the Fifth Avenue project started in July 2020, and is from West Federal Street to Eastbound Service Road.

July 5 is the completion date, and Shasho said Parella-Pannunzio Inc., the Austintown company doing the work after a $6,921,088 proposal was accepted by the city, is on schedule to finish on time.

So far, the company is about half done with the project, he said.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown calls the project “a great example of what Youngstown will be going forward.”

The Fifth Avenue project reduces the number of lanes from two or three in each direction to one in each direction with turning lanes in several locations as well as new lighting and traffic signals, improves pedestrian crosswalks and adds of medians.

After all of the street projects are finished, the city will add an autonomous bus service that will be just the second of its kind in the state. The only operating system now is in Columbus.

“It’s the last thing and will be implemented in 2023,” Shasho said. “There will be a trial period for it. It’s new to me. I’m learning as I go.”

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