Local officials raised golden shovels together in celebration at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Interstate 71-state Route 665 interchange improvement project on Friday, Oct. 22.

Local officials raised golden shovels together in celebration at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Interstate 71-state Route 665 interchange improvement project on Friday, Oct. 22.

The groundbreaking, held at 10:30 a.m., featured short speeches from a variety of Ohio politicians who had a hand securing funding for the $32.7-million project.

Among those attending were U.S. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, Ohio Sen. Jon Husted, state Rep. Cheryl Grossman, and former U.S. representatives Deborah Price and David Hobson, as well as Ohio Department of Transportation director Jolene Molitoris.

"Welcome to a historic day," said Grove City mayor Richard "Ike" Stage, addressing the crowd that gathered inside a tent on the project site. "It's important because it's been 10 years (in the making) We are pleased to be the host to the southern gateway to Columbus."

The current interchange was constructed in the 1950s and was designed to handle much less traffic than flows through the area on a daily basis now.

The excessive traffic created a dangerous situation for both drivers and pedestrians - a problem that was noticed by Grove City officials about 10 years ago.

"I'm grateful that we've not suffered a fatality at this interchange at this point in time," Grossman said. "It's incredible to finally be standing here celebrating this new interchange."

The additional traffic capacity of the new interchange will bring jobs to the area, officials said.

"It's going to be an economic development tool," Stage said. "It's about jobs. We figure by the end of 2016, there will be 8,000 jobs in this area."

The construction will spur new development along the freeway, Kilroy said.

"We have great potential, in our location, with these improvements, to play a great role in the future of this area," she said.

More immediately, the intersection project will create 86 jobs, Kilroy said.

Funding for the project came from a plethora of sources, including ODOT, the Ohio Public Works Commission and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's federally attributed funds.

"I am glad and proud that I helped get funding for this project because it's not just about federal spending it's about an investment," Kilroy said.

"I am very proud to add my earmark of $1.5-million to the other federal funds."

During the ceremony, Stage used a large screen to show an animation depicting the intersection's future traffic flow.

"This is the interchange up at Sawmill except ours is going to be prettier," Stage said. "In two years, this is what it's going to look like."

The video is available online at http://www.dot. state.oh.us/districts/D06/projects/Pages/71-665.aspx.

The intersection is the culmination of a decade of planning, Pryce said.

"It's a testament to the hard work, the gumption and the get-it-done attitude here in Grove City."

The new project will be the third phase of the interchange renovation. The first two phases - widening state Route 665 and relocating Haughn Road - cost $13-million.