In Mantua, Black Friday means more than just scooping up the latest deal, or the official start of the Christmas holiday season. It’s also the much-anticipated day that the bridge at the South end of the Village on State Route 44 officially re-opens.
Victor Botosan, Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS), was present at the recent ribbon cutting ceremony. His organization provided roughly $135,000 grant for the bridge and sidewalk project through its Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation (DMRC) raised matching funds of approximately $29,000, and the remainder was funded through generous donations from F & S Automotive, Sierra Trucking, Perfect Choice Auto Collision, Stamm Contracting, and Tom VanAuken, owner of the Bank Building.
According to Craig Dunbar from ODOT, the project start of late July was delayed due to utility issues. Prior to starting construction work on the bridge, utility poles needed to be relocated to accommodate the bridge’s new pylon support structures. Construction officially began at the start of September, and will be completed once the grass has been seeded on Black Friday, Dunbar stated.
Jodie Fiala from DMRC couldn’t be happier. “This is going to open Mantua back up,” she remarked. Businesses like Miller’s Restaurant, K & K Meats, and Mantua’s Secret Attic saw a reduction in visitors when the bridge blocked the main artery through town. They look expectantly to the return of commuter traffic as the holiday season begins and the road opens. Angie Zoller, Manager of Barky Mart gas station and convenience store, agrees. “We’ve continued to see lots of our regular customers throughout the road closure, but have missed the flow of morning and afternoon commuters. Now that the bridge is open, it will be nice to get back to our regular routine.”
Village Administrator Kate Rogers concurs. “With the road open, the Fire Department can go back to regular operations.” During the closure, the Mantua-Shalersville Fire Department, located south of the closure, opened a satellite station to the north of the closure, in order to reduce fire and rescue response time to Village and Township residents to the north. Dean Stebbins, Owner of F&S Automotive, saw a reduction in tow truck and service response times to the south, as well. His company made room at their facility north of the road closure to accommodate the satellite Fire Station’s fire and rescue vehicles and staff. In return, the MSFD provided space for F&S towing vehicles at the station to the south. “We help the community, and the community helps us,” he explained.
“With the road open, this should make a big impact on businesses in the downtown area. School bus routes will return to normal, and our side streets should see much less traffic, as well,” Rogers concluded. And in the Village of Mantua, that’s the best Black Friday deal to be had.