If you’re waiting for State Road 135 to be widened farther south, don’t expect construction any time soon.
Years ago, the plan was to widen the state highway in two sections, with the state spending a total of $35 million. The first section, between Curry and Stones Crossing roads, was widened in 2011. The second section, between Stones Crossing Road and State Road 144, was next.
At one time, that work was planned as soon as 2016. Now, the project isn’t on the state’s 18-month list and could be as much as a decade away, under a previous state timeline.
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Commuters say a wider road is needed now.
More subdivisions have been built in the southern Center Grove area and Bargersville, and more development has come to State Road 135. And even more is coming, with Kroger and Goodwill stores planned in the area.
“I can say with confidence it’s done nothing but increase; and with more commercial businesses coming, it’s only going to get worse,” said Dennis Eickhoff, a Bargersville-area commuter.
Bargersville town manager Kevin McGinnis said development is occurring slowly enough for now that there is time before the road will absolutely need to be widened. The town wouldn’t push for the project right now, he said. As long as developments, such as the new Kroger and Goodwill, stay near intersections, that will help, he added.
McGinnis said he doesn’t routinely talk to developers planning projects, but if he gets a chance, he recommends building at an intersection, which helps with traffic.
“If we have just a few projects, I think we will be OK for a while,” McGinnis said. “If we can get most of the activity at intersections, we can limp through pretty well.”
But growth is starting to pick up. The town is starting to hear from developers considering projects, especially new homes since most of the subdivisions are filling up.
And as more homes come to the area, commercial development will follow. But for now, that isn’t happening quickly.
“It’s still a fairly slow pace, compared to what it used to be, which is kind of a blessing in disguise,” McGinnis said.
When stores and businesses start construction on undeveloped farm land between major intersections, McGinnis said, he will become more concerned about traffic issues on the highway.
Eickhoff said the state needs to be planning the project to widen State Road 135 now, before more development comes to the area and the land needed for the road becomes more costly.
“Why not do it before it’s all loaded up with commercial establishments?” he said.
In the five years since he moved to the area, Eickhoff said, he has watched as traffic has gotten heavier, especially south of Smokey Row Road. That can be frustrating, especially for drivers heading to and from Indianapolis, as they have to continually slow down for traffic turning to head to neighborhoods and, in the future, new stores.
Officials seem to be most concerned about temporary fixes, such as the new stoplight and turn lanes at Smokey Row Road. The light helps, but not completely since no right-turn lanes were added, and it won’t solve the problem long term.
“The road needs to be looked at in terms of the future and where it’s going and not just in terms of let’s fix a problem,” Eickhoff said.
Beverly Spriggs, who commutes to Indianapolis from Bargersville, said the road really needs to be widened farther south.
The new developments at Smokey Row Road will cause more traffic issues, and that area is already crowded, since it is shortly after the road narrows to two lanes.
And development is already planned farther south, including a new sports complex just west of State Road 135 near Two Cent Road. That development will impact traffic, and she does not want to see that area of State Road 135 become a traffic nightmare like it is to the north.
Residents said that means the road should be widened even farther than the state’s initial plans.
“Someone just hasn’t been projecting, I don’t think, far enough in advance to see what’s really coming their way,” Spriggs said.