In 1987 the Southern Delaware County Thoroughfare Plan identified the need to extend Sawmill Parkway north to the City of Delaware. On Thursday afternoon the vision becomes a reality with the grand opening of the Sawmill Parkway extension to U.S. 42.

Deputy Chief Engineer Rob Riley said the project has been in the works for three decades and the construction phase has gone well. “This has been at least 30 years in the making,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to opening it up on Thursday.”

Trucco Construction, a Delaware-based construction firm, was awarded a $30.4 million contract by Delaware County Commissioners in July of 2015 for the building of the parkway.

“Being a local firm I think they had a vested interest making sure this project was a successes,” Riley said. “We do think it appropriate to have occasion to celebrate what’s been done. I don’t know if it’s a grand ceremony, but I think it’s appropriate to recognize all the work that has gone into this.”

The grand opening will be held Thursday from 2:30-3:30 p.m. north of the Hyatts Road roundabout on Sawmill Parkway.

Commissioner Gary Merrell said he has been involved with the project since being elected as a county commissioners four years ago.

“When I ran, I said I want to see Sawmill finished,” he said. “With the support of Commissioner (Dennis) Stapleton we were able to accomplish that and I think it’s going to be great for the whole county.

Merrell said he hopes that Sawmill Parkway will attract industrial business development to the City of Delaware.

“It creates the opportunity and now it’s what we do with the opportunity,” he said.

Merrell talked about the parkway bringing relief to traffic on U.S. 23 and State Route 315.

“I run into people all the time that say, “I can’t wait because I’ll be able to use Sawmill instead of one of the other two,’” he said.

Bob Lamb, county economic development director, said he thought the county engineer had done an “amazing job” with getting the project up and running. “We’ll find a lot of interest in development along the corridor,” Lamb said. “I think the development of Sawmill Parkway brings more land into a position to be developed within our county.

“I think working with our jurisdictional partners, City of Delaware, Liberty Township and others to do so is always a good step for us to help, lead and structure larger projects that these smaller entities wouldn’t be able to do by themselves,” Lamb said.

The active planning and design began in 2004 to identify the area where the parkway would be built through a series of public involvement meetings said Riley.

“We had a lot of interaction with stake holders, local government and community leaders where we got some great feed back from the public,” Riley said. “One of the great comments we got was about roundabouts.”

Riley said the county engineer’s office looked at widening Liberty and South Section Line roads, but it was more feasible to build a new road between the two existing roads.

Construction of the four-lane roadway included roundabouts at the intersections of Bunty Station Road, Bean Oller Road, Clark-Shaw Road and Ford Road and a signal at the intersection with turn lanes at U.S. 42.

By D. Anthony Botkin

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D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.