Avon Mayor Jim Smith said the decision could cut the projected start date of 18 months from now by four or five months.
“I was very much enthused by their want to push this thing forward,” Smith said.
The project, which the state estimates will cost about $23.7 million, will be built near Nagel Road and will serve a $100 million Cleveland Clinic facility being built nearby as well as other local businesses, like Henkel Adhesives.
The city is footing the bill for the project, which an Ohio Department of Transportation news release said would open the area to future growth.
Smith said the construction jobs created by the interchange project could put about $7 million in wages into the pockets of workers, many of whom haven’t worked in months or years.
The Cleveland Clinic project is doing the same, and once it opens, Smith said, it will provide hundreds of high-wage jobs in the areas.
By putting the project on a fast track, Smith said, the state will help the city speed through approvals of plans, designs and engineering for the interchange.
The city already has secured federal permission to build the interchange and received the blessing of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency’s executive board in 2007 following a bitter fight with officials from neighboring Cuyahoga County.
Cuyahoga officials argued that the interchange would hurt their economic development efforts and lead to businesses moving to Avon but dropped their objections after the city agreed to a revenue-sharing plan with 15 surrounding communities for the area near where the planned interchange is expected to be built.
The feud nearly splintered NOACA, a regional planning organization that includes five counties, with the four smaller counties that were members — including Lorain County — complaining that Cuyahoga County had too much power. A deal to change the power structure of NOACA was brokered last year.
In addition to the Avon interchange project, Strickland also accelerated work on four other projects around the state, one in Butler County, one in Clark County and two in Franklin County.
State Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, said speeding up the projects is a good idea.
“This is part of what the governor talked about in his State of the State, he wanted more dirt flying and more projects moving forward,” Lundy said.
The project in Avon, he said, will generate jobs and open up the nearby area.
“We need to cut through the red tape and get rid of the delays,” Lundy said.
State Sen. Sue Morano, D-Lorain, said she was thrilled with the news.
“It will bring job growth to the area,” she said. “It will also reduce congestion.”
Staff Writer Melissa Hebert contributed to this story.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.