State Route 261 is a ‘stroad,’ but there’s no plan to change that soon

Google Earth photo looking down state Route 261 at its intersection with state Route 43

Rumors about a plan to reduce state Route 261 down to two lanes are partially true.

The “Highway to Nowhere,” as some Kent townies call it, was originally constructed as a connection to an Akron freeway that never got built. State Route 261 is underutilized and difficult to cross, rendering it a “stroad,” the term for a dangerous, multi-lane thoroughfare, Council Member Heidi Shaffer Bish said.

Reducing it to two lanes would increase pedestrian and bicycle access to Kent’s shopping plazas and downtown and would potentially open up more land for housing and other uses, she said.

A study Kent city leaders conducted in 2017 concluded that 261 could, and should, be reduced to two lanes. Then they looked at the dollar signs: Even with a slew of grants that could conceivably help reduce costs, the project would be extremely expensive.

There is no timeline on the project because other high-dollar projects like the redesign of East Main Street from Willow Street to Horning Road keep getting in the way, City Engineer Jim Bowling said.

So, while a two-lane 261 could happen someday, don’t look for those orange barrels anytime soon.

+ posts

Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.