Akron freeway to be transformed into a pop-up forest - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Akron freeway to be transformed into a pop-up forest

Renditions of the pop-up forest (Source: Knight Cities Challenge) Renditions of the pop-up forest (Source: Knight Cities Challenge)
(Source: Knight Cities Challenge) (Source: Knight Cities Challenge)
AKRON, OH (WOIO) -

A designer won a grant worth more than $200,000 to transform a closed Akron freeway into a pop-up forest.

The project is called the Innerbelt National Forest, and will connect two isolated neighborhoods with a lush, wooded public space.

Akron's six-lane Innerbelt, also known as State Route 59, was started in the 1970s, but was never actually completed. The highway was supposed to connect parts of central Akron to the city's suburbs, but it eventually isolated certain neighborhoods because it was never fully finished.

A stretch of the dilapidated highway will be transformed with trees, seating, unique light installations, and public events, according to Smithsonian.com.

The park will not be open until 2018, and will last for three months. Supporters hope that city officials can be convinced to keep the park permanently if the pop-up forest is successful.

The designer, Hunter Franks, won a $214,420 award to help his dream. The grant was awarded as part of the Knight Cities Challenge. Designers, artists, and others were asked, "What's your best idea to make cities more successful?" More than 4,500 submissions were sent into, but only 33 entries won.

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