JACKSON TWP. – Planners say a long-discussed project to build a pedestrian tunnel under Fulton Drive NW between Jackson High School and North Park is on track next summer.
Sarah Buell, head of projects and administration at Stark Parks, said contractors are moving utility lines so that they are not affected by the work.
MS Consultants, the engineering firm, finalizes the design. Over the past year, he has collected drill samples to test the stability of the ground.
In early 2022, Stark Parks will be soliciting bids to complete the construction, which will cost around $ 1.26 million.
The work should start after the end of the school year (end of May or beginning of June) and end before the next school year in August.
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Why build a tunnel through Jackson High School?
Once the tunnel opens, students, faculty and other residents will no longer have to cross busy Fulton Drive to get to North Park, the Jackson Township branch of the Stark County Library and events in the new 3,500 square foot Jackson Township Amphitheater.
About 9,700 vehicles per day travel on Fulton just west of Wales Avenue NW, according to a 2019 traffic survey.
“They’re playing Frogger (passing) through Fulton at the intersection of Wales and Fulton,” Buell said. “You can quickly see why this is a priority for the high school and the administrators in Jackson Township, now we have this amphitheater over there, you have the Stark County Library, a new building. activity.”
Jackson Township Administrator Mike Vaccaro said, “When they go through Fulton, they go through (what) I believe to be five lanes of traffic. … The biggest problem is security. Pedestrian safety. go between North and South Park. “
Todd Porter, a spokesperson for the Jackson Local School District, released the statement.
“The tunnel showcases two of the township’s crown jewels: parks and schools,” the statement said. “The value for students and the district is safety first. Jackson High School is located near one of the busiest intersections in Stark County and having a tunnel that goes under Fulton Drive NW provides our students, student-athletes and even the Y -Keep the kids (weather permitting) safe to North Park, one of the most beautiful parks and outdoor recreation facilities in County Stark. “
Similar to Market Tunnel
Buell said the 95-foot-long Fulton Tunnel would be shorter but similar to the one under Market Avenue N in North Canton. This tunnel connects segments of the Hoover Trail north of Washington Square. The Market Avenue tunnel opened in 2019 after being built as part of Market expansion by the Ohio Department of Transportation at a cost of $ 14.3 million.
According to a schematic of the plans, the Fulton Tunnel, a concrete culvert tunnel, would be just south of the pond by Community Park NW in North Park and just north of Jackson High School near its west parking lot.
It’s to the west of the new Jackson Township branch of the Stark County District Library, which opened in August 2020. The library adjoins the $ 4 million amphitheater that the township opened in May. , which should be a commonly used site for school events.
On the north side of the tunnel, an asphalt trail will wind northeast and eventually turn into a planned trail. Known as the Jackson Connector Trail, it would cross North Park to Mudbrook Street NW and Jackson Middle School. On the south side, a path will meander from the tunnel to the sidewalk south of Fulton. The southern end of the Jackson Connector Trail planned at a point west of the tunnel would head south to South Park, then southwest to Jackson Bog State Nature Reserve.
Buell said Stark Parks has yet to secure funding for the Jackson Connector Trail and does not yet have a timeline for its construction.
Jackson’s administrators and local school board voted in June 2020 to help plan and fund the Fulton Drive tunnel.
Jackson tunnel a longtime wishlist item
Buell said township officials began considering construction of a tunnel under Fulton by Jackson High School in 2001. According to a Repository article, administrators were considering a $ 250,000 project at the time. They finally approved at the end of 2003 authorizing the township road department to begin planning.
But Buell said that while the township came up with a preliminary design in 2004, the project died due to the complexity of moving utility lines and lack of funding.
In 2009, Trustees sent a letter to then Congressman John Boccieri asking him to help raise about $ 500,000 in federal funds to help pay for the work, which was then estimated at at least $ 700,000.
Finally, Stark Parks in 2018 applied for a grant of $ 690,000 for federally and state funded transportation alternatives as part of the Stark County Area Transportation Study, which approved the demand. SCATS then changed the amount to around $ 790,000, Buell said.
Stark Parks, Jackson Township and Jackson Local Schools share the rest. Although the cost of each can reach $ 250,000 to $ 300,000 for the construction, design and relocation of utilities, all three have committed up to $ 400,000 for unforeseen costs, Buell said. She added that Stark Parks was waiting for a word on whether it would get a grant from the National Trail Fund to offset more of the local costs.
Vaccaro said in-kind contributions reduced the township’s cash commitment to about $ 328,000.
Jackson’s administrator said the three partners have yet to enter into a maintenance contract. But the Stark County Engineer’s Office will regularly inspect the tunnel.
The cost of hiring MS Consultants to do the design and engineering was approximately $ 200,000 and the cost of relocating utility lines such as internet data lines, water pipes, sanitary sewers. and the natural gas line was around $ 100,000.
Buell said the school district wanted construction to take place during the summer so it wouldn’t disrupt high school traffic.
Buell said the tunnel will have benches, landscaping, ramps accessible to people with disabilities as well as lighting and security cameras. She said it had not yet been determined who would monitor the video feed from the cameras.
Contact Robert at (330) 580-8327 and [email protected] Twitter: @rwangREP.