YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown leaders are working to gets millions of federal dollars to improve transportation between downtown and major attractions. This could include self-driving buses.

Some say it would be nice to have autonomous public transportation, but they’d rather have safer ways to walk and ride bikes around the city.

Members of the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments are turning to people like Jim Converse, who lives on the north side, for information on how to improve the safety and efficiency of the city’s infrastructure.

Converse said his grandson, a cyclist, agrees. The city needs to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to get around.

“He bicycles in New York City on the city bikes that you just rent, pick up and drop off wherever you want to,” Converse said. “Here he feels that it’s really not safe to bike.”

He was one of about 30 people that came to the council’s information forum at the City One Building Thursday night. They let council members know about what needs improved before the Smart 2 Project grant is submitted to the federal government.

Executive Director of Council Jim Kinnick said they are asking for more than $10 million to safely connect places like St. Elizabeth’s, YSU and the Chill-Can plant to downtown.

That plan includes self-driving buses.

“We teamed up with Drive Ohio. They are providing the legislative and the technical support to put this on our plan and to help us implement it,” Kinnick said.

He said some of the money will go toward speeding up a current project to make Rayen and Fifth avenues safer for people trying to get to St. E’s.

Part of their plan is to get rid of some lanes to make room for improvements, like walk signals and bike paths.

“We’re going to bring it down to three lanes. One lane in each direction with a two-way turn lane,” Kinnick said. “Put a boulevard down the middle with trees, put multi-use paths on both sides and be able to really connect the city with the university, with the hospital, with the development that’s taking place on the east side at the Chill-Can plant.”

Ten million dollars has already been set aside for that portion of the project. That project will start in 2020.

We’ll find out if council gets the grant between fall and the end of the year.



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