Madison Avenue Community Reconnection logo

Madison Avenue Community Reconnection

With the announcement of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments has begun the process of exploring the feasibility of the removal of the Madison Avenue Expressway by building a coalition within the community, the City of Youngstown, and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Construction of the Madison Avenue Expressway in the 1960s split the original neighborhood in half and severed community connectivity by constructing a trenched limited access freeway that created an imposing physical barrier, especially for pedestrians. Freeway construction led the project area to decline almost immediately as a larger number of homes were demolished to make way for the new expressway and many residents moved to outlying suburbs.

A drone photograph overlooking the Madison Avenue Expressway as it cut's through the north end of Downtown Youngstown and the campus of Youngstown State University.

Current Status

Conceptual planning is underway on the conversion of a 1.5-mile section of Madison Avenue Expressway into a low-speed boulevard with complete streets (bike, pedestrian, transit) facilities integrated into the city’s street grid. The proposed concept would involve reconfiguring the high-speed freeway trench onto the southern frontage road through traffic calming, gateway roundabouts, and a Road Diet. Eastgate has applied for a USDOT Reconnecting Communities planning grant to refine the conceptual alternative, explore feasibility, and develop preliminary engineering for the project.

The project has also been submitted to the Congress for the New Urbanism 2023 Freeways Without Futures call for nominations, which highlights the efforts of local campaign organizers and activists seeking to revitalize their communities by dismantling the city highways that burden them with the significant health hazards of vehicle exhaust, a loss of local businesses and services, and streets that are hostile to pedestrians. The highways featured in these reports are too costly to rebuild and for too long have segregated and polluted nearby neighborhoods and communities.

Madison Avenue Community Reconnection Concept Overview

Community Benefit

Current community members would benefit from removal of a major barrier to the Downtown Youngstown Innovation District including Youngstown State University and Mercy Health’s St. Elizabeth Hospital. Neighborhood residents would also enjoy increased greenspace and reductions in freeway noise as a result of the proposed freeway to boulevard conversion.

Local and regional partners have already mobilized for the Youngstown Equitable & Sustainable (YES) Streets Initiative through a Congressional Directing Spending (CDS) funding request to study integrated transportation, land use, housing, and economic development strategies. The CDS funding request was recommended to the Transportation & Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee for funding by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The YES Streets Initiative will explore opportunities to ensure affordable housing requirements and community benefit agreements are included in the redevelopment of vacated expressway right-of-way and surrounding properties.

A photo of the back of a wayfinding sign in the foreground with the text "The City of Youn - Youngstown Ohio. Sponsored by The Youngstown Foundation." The background shows a view of the Madison Avenue Expressway heading west past Downtown.

Project Area Map

Project area map


Drone photo of Madison Avenue Expressway

Madison Avenue Expressway

Madison Avenue Expressway

Madison Avenue Expressway

Madison Avenue Expressway

Madison Avenue Expressway

Madison Avenue Expressway

Madison Avenue Expressway


July 12, 2020 | The Vindicator | Study paves way for Belmont changes