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AKRON -- Traffic patterns are changing around Akron Children's Hospital as construction of a new critical care tower begins.

The two-year construction project begins Monday, April 22, which is forcing the permanent closure of Locust Street between Exchange Street and Buchtel Avenue.

Here are some key points regarding changes in traffic flow and access to the hospital:

- Akron Children's Emergency Department, which fronts Locust Street, will remain open at all times during the construction. The hospital offers a free valet parking service for ER patients.

- Visitors should disregard their GPS instructions once they near Akron Children's and pay attention to street signs.

- Street signs directing patients to the Emergency Department will feature large red directional arrows and will say "Emergency."

- Signs with black arrows will direct people to the hospital's Bowery and Locust Street parking decks and the hospital's main entrance.

- Patients and visitors to the Locust Professional Building will still be able to access the Locust Street Parking Deck from Locust Street by way of West State Street.

- With increased traffic on Bowery Street and other surrounding streets, patients, staff and visitors are encouraged to use the walkways connecting the hospital and its professional buildings rather than attempting to cross the streets.

The new critical care tower for Akron Children's Hospital will be constructed on Locust.

Maps and updated traffic conditions can be found online at www.akronchildrens.org/traffic.

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