Delaware County officials began discussing a new route between the county's southern border and the city of Delaware in the late 1980s.

Delaware County officials began discussing a new route between the county's southern border and the city of Delaware in the late 1980s.

A generation later, the 4.5-mile stretch of Sawmill Parkway between Hyatts Road in Liberty Township and the city of Delaware's industrial park is open to traffic.

Local officials July 23, 2015, posed with shovels in front of cornfields north of Hyatts Road during a groundbreaking ceremony. A $30.4 million construction project followed, extending the road north and creating roundabouts at Sawmill Parkway's intersections with Bean-Oller, Bunty Station, Clark-Shaw and Ford roads.

"The cornfields are basically gone and we have this beautiful road," Delaware County Commissioner Gary Merrell said Nov. 10, when area leaders marked the parkway's opening with a ceremony.

The roadway ends just northwest of a new signalized intersection at U.S. Route 42 in Delaware. The extension, which follows a path from Liberty Township to Delaware Township and into the city, could see 25,000 travelers per day by 2030, according to an estimate from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

The new thoroughfare is expected to ease congestion on roads such as state Route 315 and U.S. Route 23 while opening up large swaths of land near the city of Delaware's industrial park for development. While drivers on the roadway still may see grazing animals and farm fields for years to come, city of Delaware officials see it as the first step toward creating the jobs of the future in the county.

Delaware City Manager Tom Homan said the city's economic development staff already is showing properties adjacent to the parkway to firms looking to move to the area. He said the hundreds of acres near the city's existing industrial park likely would take decades to fully develop.

Merrell said the fast-growing county that is not lacking in residential or retail options is hoping to attract industrial and tech employers.

"We need to create more good jobs in our county and (Sawmill Parkway) is one area that's going to make this possible," he said.

Delaware County Engineer Chris Bauserman said it is important to recognize the sacrifices of county residents that made the extension possible -- from paying taxes to giving up land near the roadway.

"Some of those negotiations went well. Some were contentious," he said of the process of acquiring right of way.

Bauserman said county staff past and present also deserve recognition for their roles in the parkway's completion.

"This project is a monument of sorts to your great work," he said.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick