By Krista Ritz
Construction on Fifth Avenue continues after beginning in August, and the M60 parking deck remains partially closed.
Deputy Director of Public Works, Charles Shasho, said the project will transform Youngstown.
“The Fifth Avenue project is a part of a larger project going to be done in a few phases. It is called the Smart2 Network,” Shasho said.
The project will take about a year and is slated for completion by June or July of 2021. This will be a comprehensive complete street concept for six specific streets in and around the downtown area and Youngstown State University.
Similar to Fifth Avenue, Shasho said Lincoln Avenue’s construction was a “pretty big inconvenience,” but transformative nonetheless. He said he hopes the Fifth Avenue construction will bring the same positive change to the community.
Currently, the M60 parking deck is partially closed and only half of the parking deck is available to students.
Shasho said they aren’t yet ready to reopen the deck. As the percentage of students driving to school decreases, the deck still has more than enough room available for students attending class on campus while parking services keeps half of the deck closed.
“We’re not very far behind schedule,” Shasho said, “I’m pleased with the progress so far; things are running smoothly.”
Lari Spahr, a third-year creative writing major, commutes to campus every day. While she doesn’t take Fifth Avenue to get to campus, she does park in the M60 deck and has noticed slight inconveniences due to its closure.
Spahr explained not being able to use the upper levels of the deck makes finding available parking spaces difficult.
“I’d probably just end up going to Wick and walking,” Spahr said.
Danny O’Connell, director of support services, said the partial closure of the deck has been due to a combination of the construction as well as the weather.
“We’ve had some unbelievably heavy rain and what happens when you have a construction site is the water moves some of the dirt and the silt and so we did have an issue with all of that on the entrance way to the deck,” O’Connell said.
Now, there is silt protection in the parking deck. This keeps the mud out of the sewers when it rains. According to O’Connell, even with M60 being partially closed, overcrowding has not been an issue to many students within the deck.
“It’s a very unfortunate time that we have so many people not on campus [due to COVID-19], but for what we’re doing with this construction, it really is a fortunate time because we haven’t filled up either of the parking lots along Fifth Avenue,” O’Connell said.
Parking may be an issue in the M60 deck, according to Spahr. Students can also utilize the lots by McDonald’s and Taco Bell, as well as the new 81 and 82 lots behind the east side stands.