Township Administrator’s Corner by Vito Sinopoli

In an effort to enhance safety and connectivity in the Montrose corridor, Bath Township embarked on a bike and pedestrian access improvement project in 2013, starting with a Connecting Communities grant.

With an estimated 51,000 cars passing through the area daily, this initiative aims to create a pedestrian-friendly environment in a region that includes a mix of retail businesses integrated among the city of Fairlawn and the townships of Bath and Copley along Medina Road, Cleveland-Massillon Road and Springside Drive. This area has long been a place for people to congregate, but connectivity among the businesses has been a source of frustration for those who drive, walk and bike in the area.

Recognizing a need to study this area and develop a comprehensive improvement plan, Bath and Copley townships, with the support of the city of Fairlawn, sought and received a Connecting Communities Grant in 2013, administered through the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study organization.

The $50,000 grant was used to develop a comprehensive plan using Connecting Communities Initiatives and complete streets principles to recommend improvements for pedestrian and bicycle access, transit and vehicle access through retail areas, parking access, corridor aesthetics and environmental impact.

The Connecting Communities model utilized a regional planning process to explore strategies to increase transportation choices and accessibility, help communities make collaborative informed decisions to coordinate development, reduce environmental impacts and improve regional connectivity.

Working with partner organizations, as well as the Ohio Department of Transportation, business owners in the Montrose area, AMATS, METRO RTA and the Summit County Engineer, the study focused on key features of the area that needed improvement. A survey was conducted of people who frequent the Montrose area, asking what things they like and dislike about the area. Traffic volume, frequent curb cuts, lack of sidewalks, extensive parking lots and negative visual appeal were some of the concerns they expressed. In addition to the survey, a series of public, stakeholder and business meetings were held. As a result, 70% of the survey respondents felt more sidewalks and crosswalks were needed.

Following the survey and building upon the Connecting Communities Initiative, Bath Township, in partnership with the Summit County Engineer’s Office, applied for and received federal funding through a Local Technical Assistance Program grant in 2017. The grant was used to construct sidewalks on the north side of SR 18 between the intersections of Cleveland-Massillon Road and Springside Drive. Phase I work on the sidewalks was completed in 2019 and provides convenient pedestrian access through a central part of the Montrose area.

Envisioning a broader plan for accessibility throughout the Montrose business district, Bath Township again worked with the Summit County Engineer’s Office in 2021 to apply for additional funds through a Transportation Alternative Set Aside grant opportunity. TASA projects use 80% federal funds and 20% local funds. The local funds include cost overruns. Bath Township’s application included using federal funds for the environmental, engineering, right-of-way and construction costs for the sidewalk projects.

The funding would allow for completion of two additional phases of sidewalks in Montrose, one on the west side of Cleveland-Massillon Road from SR 18 north to Springside Drive and the other on the north side of Springside Drive from Cleveland-Massillon Road and returning west to SR 18. The entire project would create a comprehensive sidewalk network, greatly improving connectivity and access in the area.

Environmental Design Group, an engineering and landscape architecture consulting firm, was awarded the preliminary engineering and survey contract on both projects and will survey the area and complete the engineering designs for planned sidewalk improvements. Engineering work along Cleveland-Massillon Road from SR 18 to Springside Drive has begun and includes surveying work and establishing right of way limits. Final sidewalk design will commence after this initial work is completed, with funding for construction of this phase slated for fall 2024.

Phase III, with funding slated for distribution in fiscal year 2026, is poised to complete the Montrose corridor loop. This phase will install sidewalks on the north side of Springside Drive, terminating at Medina Road, thereby creating a seamless pedestrian pathway throughout the corridor.

A pedestrian-vehicle accident on Jan. 13 on Cleveland-Massillon Road near Springside Drive has underscored the pressing need for increased safety measures in this high-traffic area. The addition of sidewalks not only promotes safety, but also fosters a more accessible and inviting atmosphere for residents, visitors and businesses alike.

As we progress through these phases of sidewalk improvements, Bath Township remains dedicated to proactive community planning, ensuring that our Montrose corridor provides for safe and convenient pedestrian access for generations to come. The sidewalk projects are a testament to the township’s commitment to comprehensive planning to improve the overall infrastructure of the Montrose corridor. Watch for further updates on this transformative project that is set to reshape an important part of our township. ∞