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New Phelps walkway to be welcomed

lans to turn a section of Phelps Street in downtown Youngstown between West Federal and West Commerce streets into a unique downtown pedestrian mall by July 2020 should be welcomed as a wonderful improvement to the city’s downtown.

Other parts of Phelps also are set to be widened with improved sidewalks between Federal and Front streets, making passage easier and more inviting for pedestrians, especially those walking from downtown to the new Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre and the new 22-acre park by the Mahoning River.

This is all part of a very large project affecting much of the city’s downtown.

No doubt users will groan at the thought of more downtown construction, but certainly the long-term end project will be well worth the short-term inconvenience.

The city will start construction on a long-delayed sewer project on the street sometime in mid-December. Then the pedestrian mall construction will raise the street to sidewalk level. Decorative lampposts and a gateway arch will be added on the West Commerce side. Similar street improvements will be made to a small section of Phelps, north of West Commerce by Erie Terminal Place.

It looks and sounds wonderfully inviting! But don’t just take our word for it.

We urge residents, workers and frequent visitors to Youngstown’s downtown to attend and take part in a Sept. 26 open house about $26 million in downtown projects.

The open house will discuss the upcoming work to Fifth, Park and Rayen avenues, as well as Commerce, Federal, Front and Phelps streets. The projects include repaving, reducing lanes on some streets, multi-use paths, new and repaired sidewalks, improved lighting, new traffic signals and landscaping.

It is set for 4 to 7 p.m. at the offices of Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, 100 E. Federal St., Suite 1000.

The city’s deputy director of public works, Charles Shasho, described the overall construction project as among “the most transformational projects” he’s been involved in during his 20 years with the city.

We urge patience among motorists and foot traffic as the work progresses.

As Shasho puts it, after all, this “work is going to be a legacy for downtown.”