METHUEN -- Saying that it will boost the local economy and improve safety, local, state and federal officials and legislators celebrated the groundbreaking of the reconstruction of the traffic rotary that connects Routes 110/113 and Interstate Route 93 Tuesday morning.

The $66 million project has been 14 years in the making, according to Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni. Federal funding will pay for 80 percent of the project cost, said Rep. Niki Tsongas, Democrat of Lowell, who worked to help secure the funding.

Constructed in 1959, the rotary cannot handle the growing volume of traffic, according to Methuen Rep. Linda Campbell, who served on the Methuen City Council when the push for the reconstruction began more than a decade ago.

"The bottom line is about creating jobs," Tsongas said of the project.

Zanni said the rotary has also been prone to traffic accidents and that the reconstruction will help improve the safety of the residents tremendously.

The state Department of Transportation plans to remove the traffic circle and instead install a signalized intersection where routes 110 and 113 meets on the western side of Route 93. The highway ramps will be slightly reconfigured. The project is expected to take a few years to complete.

Department of Transportation Secretary Richard Davey, Sen. Kathleen O'Connor Ives, 1st Essex District, Methuen Rep. Diana DiZoglio, Lawrence Rep. Frank Moran, and Rep. Colleen Garry, Democrat of Dracut, were also on hand to celebrate the groundbreaking.

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