With a flip of some gold-painted shovels, a new chapter in Avon's history began Thursday morning with the official beginning of constructing the Nagel Road interchange.
The ceremony, held at Petitti Garden Center on Chester Road near where the westbound on-ramp will merge with Interstate 90, featured speeches by Avon mayor Jim Smith and representatives from the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Mike Cope, assistant director of business and human resources for ODOT, praised Avon and its partnership with the Jacobs Group in getting the $27 million interchange built with no federal or state money.
Cope said he "never quite figured out" the overwhelming negative reaction he'd hear at NOACA meetings in the years leading up to this.
"It's a great project," he said.
Instead of a peppy speech, Smith spoke of the journey to get to this point. It was a journey that tired and frustrated him at times. Critics of growth in Avon, or the way growth has been handled, or the financing of the interchange, have made the job hard, he said.
Smith got in a jab at the state, saying that it had given $1 million to Elyria to beautify the Route 57 bypass while denying Avon money for the interchange. That project didn't create jobs the way this interchange will, he said.
"Might as well as taken a match to (the money)," he said.
Smith also said again that he will not be seeking re-election when this term expires. He has been mayor since 1994.
Representatives of Mosser Construction, the company building the interchange, were also at the groundbreaking.
George Baez, Mosser's project manager for the interchange, confirmed that the Nagel Road bridge over I-90 is closing Sept. 28. It will be closed for the duration of the project, which is expected to run into 2013, Baez said.