There’s finally some good news for travelers of state Route 83 between Avon and North Ridgeville: The intersection at Mills Road is once again open with a bit of a different look.
On Wednesday afternoon, the two cities held a joint ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly-constructed roundabout, which is expected to cut down on traffic congestion.
Dozens of people from both communities attended the event, including the mayors, city council members, administrators from the local school districts and residents. Additionally, members of the county and state government were on hand.
“I think the thanks go out to the city of Avon and the city of North Ridgeville,” state Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, said. “I think the fact that (North Ridgeville) Mayor (Dave) Gillock and (Avon) Mayor (Bryan) Jensen both worked together to make sure this became possible, but also working together to figure out the finances of it, was impressive.”
State Rep. Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, also was in attendance and presented both cities with proclamations to commemorate the event.
According to Jensen, the project is something that has been on his radar for years.
“When I became a councilman and first started out … I said the first thing I was going to work on was the improvement of Mills Road and 83. That was almost 15 years ago,” Manning said. “We certainly are proud to get this done and proud to work in a partnership.”
Gillock echoed the pride in the joint effort.
“This is tremendous and exciting. I can’t really describe it,” he said. “It’s always great when you finish a project, but this one was so unique, not only for the design, but the fact that two communities are working together along with the state. I think it’s just a tremendous improvement.”
According to Gillock, the roundabout is the first in Lorain County, though some in LaGrange may take exception.
“The one in LaGrange is a traffic circle,” Gillock said. “The difference is with a roundabout the traffic doesn’t stop, it just yields and everybody keeps going. With a traffic circle, you pull up, stop and then go.
“This is the first true roundabout in the county.”
The project cost $1.2 million. The Ohio Public Works Commission paid nearly $700,000 of the project’s cost, and North Ridgeville and Avon split the remaining expense, paying about $250,000 each.
While some have raised concerns about the safety of the roundabout, mostly because drivers in the area may not be used to driving through one, Jensen doesn’t believe it’ll be much of an issue.
“It’s just the idea of getting used to looking to your left,” he said. “That’s all you have to look to. You don’t have to look to your right anymore. Just look to your left, and when the opportunity’s there, go.”
State Sen. Manning agreed.
“I know when I drive down to Columbus all the time, I’m either taking 83 or 301, and I always run into roundabouts,” she said. “If I can handle roundabouts, everybody else can handle them.”
After the ceremony, both mayors took a ceremonial first drive around the roundabout in a convertible. Jensen said it reminded him of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble in a car from a “Flintstones” episode.
While the roundabout officially opened 6 a.m. today, work at the site is not complete.
Gillock said light poles still need to be installed, but they won’t be shipped until next week, and they didn’t want to wait any longer to open the intersection.