Howe Avenue fully reopens to drivers as $5.9 million project wraps up
CUYAHOGA FALLS — Motorists who regularly use Howe Avenue saw a welcome sight on Monday morning.
Eastbound Howe Avenue between Main Street and the Applebee’s driveway entrance has reopened after being closed for a $5.9 million reconstruction project during the last six months. The road opened back up to through traffic on Monday morning, according to Ray Marsch, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Portions of eastbound Howe between Route 8 and Buchholzer Boulevard were closed during the past two construction seasons for the project that replaced concrete with asphalt. Kenmore Construction performed the job. The project also included drainage, curbs, sidewalks, lighting and new signage. Sidewalks were replaced along the corresponding section of roadway.
On Tuesday, Marsch said the crew still needed to do some permanent striping on Howe and Main, and install overhead signs at the intersections along Howe.
"This work should all be finished by the end of this week," said Marsch.
Erich Weiss, owner of the Chick fil-A on Howe Avenue, said he was "very happy" that the road had reopened to traffic in each direction. He noted the reopening has already made the commute to work easier for him and his staff. On Wednesday, Weiss said he had not yet noticed a change in customer traffic, but expected it to happen soon.
"I think we will see it pick up here shortly," said Weiss, who added many prospective customers may not have been aware that traffic is flowing in both directions again.
He added that navigating the duel challenges of the road closure and the COVID-19 pandemic during the last six months had gone as well as could be expected. Earlier this year, in preparation for the road closure, Weiss said he redirected more employees into drive-through and delivery work. Takeout and curbside service has also been offered. A second lane was just added to the drive-through area last week, said Weiss. He noted these efforts were "super successful," and added that no employees.were laid off.
Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters said the project had been a "long time coming," and noted city leaders were "proud" that ODOT funded "these critical infrastructure improvements."
The project was completed on schedule, too.
"I could not be happier with how beautiful the new road truly is for our residents, businesses, and visitors," said Walters.
Cuyahoga Falls City Engineer Tony Demasi highlighted the collaborative effort that occurred among multiple parties for this project.
"I am most pleased with how well our team and our local businesses and stakeholders worked together to help maintain effective traffic patterns to help our businesses remain viable throughout this project,” said Demasi.
He said a communication plan was implemented to keep all stakeholders up-to-date on the progress of the road work.
"I fully believe that engagement is what helped the project go so smoothly for everyone involved," said Demasi.
During the 2019 construction season, Kenmore installed asphalt on Howe between Route 8 and Main Street in the first phase and then did the same work on Howe between the Applebee's entrance and Buchholzer. Eastbound Howe reopened in October 2019 and stayed open until April of this year when it closed again so Kenmore could resume the project.
Throughout the course of the reconstruction work, eastbound traffic on Howe had to take a detour, but westbound Howe remained open.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.