The long awaited I-90 / Nagel Road interchange is expected to open at the end of December, Project Manager Don Damyanic and Mayor Jim Smith confirmed today.
“We’ll know about 72 hours ahead of time,” Smith said of the opening, which is 9 months ahead of schedule. “It’s a moving target; the weather has a lot to do with it.”
Damyanic announced earlier this week that three roads would re-open tomorrow, Dec. 5.
“All of the paving and striping is now complete,” Damyanic said. “What is left are traffic signals, lights, signs, and some safety items. We have had to wait on First Energy to complete some work as their forces are thinned as many workers are still on the east coast after the hurricane.”
Smith said the opening will most likely include a ribbon cutting and a ceremony at Petitti’s Garden Center in Avon.
The groundbreaking for the interchange was Sept. 14, 2011.
“We’ll probably have some coffee and donuts at and a ceremony,” Smith said. “I’ll probably have a few things to say. After all, this is the first time a city has done this on its own.”
Smith expects state and local officials, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and NOACA officials to be present and speak as well.
The project, 16 years in the making, is well ahead of schedule. It involved a drawn out battle with city officials in Cuyahoga County, many of whom initially opposed the project.
In 2007, a group of Cuyahoga County officials said they wanted Avon to share income taxes from development built around the proposed interchange area before they would approve the interchange. Opposition came from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan and Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland.
After being told Patch readers have been asking about the Interchange’s opening, Smith said. “I’ve been asking about it for 16 years.”
“This has been trying,” Smith said. “This has been very stressful. I said 16 years ago, ‘eventually we’re going to have to have (an interchange) done. Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville are growing. You’re going to need the extra interchange.'”
According to a 2010 application to ODOT, the cost of the project, paid 100 percent by the city of Avon, was $23.7 million and would serve as the main access point for the “future Cleveland Clinic hospital/office facilities.” That facility has since opened.
“Now we can serve the Clinic better,” Smith said.
Smith noted the interchange opening nine months early meant a cost savings, including less required inspections.
“Don and (City Engineer) Rob (Knopf) have done a great job,” Smith said. He also cited cooperation with ODOT and Mosser Construction with keeping the project ahead of schedule.
Smith and Damyanic said there are still some minor cosmetic touches needed before the Interchange will be considered 100 percent complete in 2013.