Mayor Patricia Murphy's grin as she wielded a pair of oversized, green-handled scissors spoke volumes about her excitement.

The scissors slicing through a purple ribbon Monday provided a ceremonial culmination for her and countless others of the six-years-in-the-making Grove Street/Route 67 intersection realignment project.

At Monday's official ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by many town, state and transportation officials, Mayor Murphy hailed the dramatically altered intersection as a long-awaited safety improvement also essential to managing downtown traffic.

Far from a simple project, intersection improvements required rerouting around the Water Witch Hose Co. No. 2 firehouse, removing several historic homes, even phasing work so as not to upset the neighborhood's brook trout.

The four-way intersection unifies East, Bridge and Grove streets and Route 67 with traffic lights and turn signals.

Grove Street was realigned west of the Water Witch firehouse and the original north end of the street closed into a cul-de-sac.

A new bridge was created over Great Brook that included better drainage designed to improve the brook's water quality.

Bridge Street traffic now comes to a stop at a traffic light before angling onto Route 67, which has much-improved sight lines heading both north and south.

The mayor said the intersection has been a source of debate since at least the 1950s.

The anticipated $10.3 million construction -- promised to be finished within two years of its April 2009 groundbreaking -- met its deadline and budget.

Total cost of the project -- which officially began in 1998 and used federal, state and local dollars to finish, including engineering costs, property acquisition and assorted permitting fees -- was more than $28 million.

"I think it's terrific,'' said Town Council member Roger Szendy.

Longtime resident Patrick Maguire said, "It's a big improvement, and it's attractive.''

He pointed to the landscaping and sidewalks erected around the firehouse.

One of the business owners who most carefully followed the progress of the project since moving into his store 18 years ago is John NeJaime, owner of the New Milford Spirit Shoppe, that was located on Grove Street and now fronts along Route 67.

On Monday, Mr. NeJaime was complimentary about the construction that, at times, had impeded his business.

"It looks beautiful,'' he said.

Business owner Joe Mammano, of the Mallett Group that purchased historic properties across from the intersection four years ago, said he, too, is impressed with the professionalism of the construction crews.

"The DOT did everything they said they would do, and pretty much on time,'' Mr. Mammano said.

He said he envisions a more efficient traffic flow and an end to the nearly daily collisions and near-misses.

"You just can't deny the safety enhancement,'' he said.

Vin Nolan, the town's economic development supervisor, said he looks forward to seeing whether this intersection improvement helps pull away some of the northbound traffic that now bottlenecks at the Route 7 entrance to Veterans Memorial Bridge.

"We hope it will,'' Nolan said.