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2016 Connecting Communities grants announced

Kent BenchThe AMATS Connecting Communities Program awarded grants totaling $115,200 to the communities of Kent – in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) – Hudson, Twinsburg and Green.  Approved by the AMATS Policy Committee on July 21, the program’s funding will be used to prepare studies that promote communitywide connectivity.

The AMATS Connecting Communities Program encourages the pursuit of vibrant livable areas by

helping communities strike a balance between their land use decisions and transportation investments. The grant program supports community studies that promote alternative forms of transportation to motor vehicles such as walking and cycling.

In April, the agency began accepting applications for study grants and eventually received 13 applications from communities throughout the region, according to AMATS Mobility Planner Heather Reidl. “While all of the applications were impressive, eventually the final four were selected as they had the most promise to offer greater transportation choices and accessibility,” Reidl explains.

For the latest round of funding, AMATS utilized different scoring criteria that awarded points to communities that were willing to commit matching funds. These criteria changes resulted in the agency leveraging an additional $74,800 in funding for these new community studies.

She adds that the four finalists present opportunities for the region to pursue “complete street” principles, which is a planning approach that encourages safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation.

Summaries of the studies and grant amounts appear below:

  • Kent & ODOT State Route 261 Re-visioning the Corridor…Planning the Future – This study will identify the best use of excess capacity and right-of-way along 220 feet of state Route 261. The study will also propose vibrant areas along the corridor and how to address traffic safety problems in the area. Kent and ODOT will receive $44,400 from AMATS to compile this study.
  • Hudson’s Preliminary Design for Veterans Trail – Downtown Phase – This study will determine acceptable routing between the currently funded sections of Hudson’s Veterans Trail. The vision for this trail segment includes developing recreational and transportation alternatives while linking First and Main streets to the adjacent Downtown Phase II development. Hudson will receive $19,000 from AMATS to compile this study.
  • Twinsburg’s First Mile/Last Mile Community Connections Plan – This study will identify alternatives for critical connections between existing trails and alternatives for extension of these connections to a variety of important community destinations and to Twinsburg’s central area. Twinsburg will receive $23,000 from AMATS to compile this study.
  • Green Master Connectivity Plan – This study will provide a vision and framework for making decisions about where and how to provide connectivity in Green. The city will integrate study recommendations supported by the community into its future land use and transportation plans. Green will receive $28,800 from AMATS to compile this study.

As the AMATS Connecting Communities Program enters its fifth year, ideas proposed in the studies of past grant recipients are becoming reality throughout the Greater Akron area. In Barberton, signage for the Medical Mutual Magic Mile – which connects the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail to downtown – and a large scenic mural on the Lake 8 Movies Theatre are now in place.  These items were originally proposed in Barberton’s North-South Bicycle Infrastructure Master Plan, which was funded by the program in 2013.   (For more info about Barberton’s connectivity efforts, the public is invited to the Aug. 3 meeting of the AMATS Citizens Involvement Committee, which will be at the Art Center on Tusc in Barberton.)

To learn more about the AMATS Connecting Communities Program, please visit our Connecting Communities page by clicking here. For additional details, please contact Reidl at 330-375-2436 or by email at hreidl@akronohio.gov.