U.S. Secretary of Transportation Visits Kent
Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton joined Congressman Tim Ryan and officials from PARTA (Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority) and the city of Kent in welcoming Ray LaHood, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, to Kent on July 9. LaHood’s visit included a tour of downtown Kent’s Acorn Alley and the future site of the Kent Central Gateway project, a multimodal transportation facility. Afterward, a press conference was held outside the PARTA offices where Ryan and LaHood talked about the significance of the project that will help create a vibrant downtown and unite the city and Kent State.
Earlier this year, Ryan announced that the Kent Central Gateway project had received a $20 million grant from LaHood’s agency through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The project serves as a catalyst for the revitalization and redevelopment of downtown Kent and reconnects the central business district with the Kent State campus.
During the press conference, Ryan and LaHood acknowledged the three local project partners: Kent State, PARTA and the city of Kent. “You’ve got a great project here,” said the transportation secretary. A ceremonial grant agreement signing took place following speaking remarks.
The multimodal transportation facility will combine elements of buses, pedestrians, bicycles and cars. It will serve as a transfer point that allows bus transport to Akron, Cleveland and all points in Portage County. Located at Erie and Depeyster streets with a curb cut into Haymaker Parkway, the Kent Central Gateway project is estimated to stimulate $60 million worth of new investment, both public and private, in Kent.
Back in February when the $20 million TIGER grant for the Kent Central Gateway was announced, Lefton said that this sets into motion all of the other development projects planned for downtown Kent, including the proposed hotel and conference center. He also commented that the Kent Central Gateway project is “a huge, transformative event in the life of Kent, the university and Portage County.”