Ribbons have been cut for the new U.S. 24 — many, many slices, as the Ohio Department of Transportation would have it — between Waterville and Napoleon, with the highway scheduled to open to motorists on Wednesday.
ODOT Director Jerry Wray, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), and several hundred local officials and dignitaries gathered atop the new road’s bridge over the old one on Waterville’s outskirts today to reflect on a half-century of planning and debate that culminate with the highway’s opening Wednesday.
“Today is the beginning of a new era of safety on U.S. 24,” Mr. Wray said. ODOT projects’ results are measured in terms of safety value and time saved, he said, “and this project is a good result” for both.
“Know that, in your time and generation, you did something great not just for your region, but something great for the national interstate transportation system,” Miss Kaptur said.
After two rounds of ribbon cutting, first by the elected officials and Mr. Wray and then by local ODOT leaders from over the years, Mr. Wray invited members of the general public to participate in their own ribbon-cutting for the road. Among the first to do so were three baton twirlers from the Anthony Wayne High School marching band, which performed before and after the dedication.
The new highway, connecting to existing U.S. 24 on the north side of Waterville and at the east end of the Napoleon Bypass, is scheduled to open to westbound traffic at about 6 a.m. Wednesday, with the eastbound opening to follow shortly thereafter once concrete barriers at the Napoleon end are repositioned.
A public bicycle, running, and walking event is scheduled for today at 6:30 p.m., with registration and check-in at the Kroger supermarket on State Rt. 64 near the new highway west of Waterville. About 1,200 people are expected to participate in that event.