Traveling east-west across Greenwood is a challenge for drivers, which is why the city is planning several projects to help make Fry Road easier to travel.
Since the city doesn’t have control over County Line Road, Fry Road is the northernmost east-west route in the city that is well-traveled between State Road 135 and U.S. 31. But the corridor, which leads to several large subdivisions, has been neglected for years. Pedestrians can’t get around easily, trails dead end, and traffic backups at the highways are common. Property values in the area dropped about 3.5 percent this year.
So the city is moving forward with about $1.4 million in stormwater, trails and road projects this year and discussing the possibility of another $1 million in work in the near future. The projects are aimed at relieving some traffic headaches and making Fry Road more walkable, which will improve quality of life for hundreds of residents who live nearby.
This year, construction crews will install new stormwater drainage pipes near U.S. 31 and fill in a steep open ditch, build a new trail from the highway to the community garden near Fire Station 92 and repave the rest of Fry Road that wasn’t done last year. Future projects that have been discussed but not approved yet include adding another left turn lane at State Road 135 and extending trails farther west or north toward County Line Road.
Aside from the stormwater project, the city has funding available to pay for projects from the Fry Road tax-increment financing (TIF) district. At the end of 2014, that district had a balance of about $4.7 million, some of which is being used to pay off loans for the new aquatic center, but otherwise available for new projects. That district captures about $1.1 million per year, which can be used for infrastructure or economic development projects.
“It’s just an attempt to improve the quality of life in Greenwood in that area in general, period. It’s been ignored a bit. It’s been talked about a long time, and we just decided that talk is no more, we’re just going to do it,” Greenwood Redevelopment Commission President Mike Tapp said.
Originally the city had planned to widen Fry Road between the two highways to two lanes in each direction, but the project would be too expensive to reasonably get done since the area is so well-developed. The city would need to purchase a substantial amount of land from people’s yards, driveways or business parking lots, which would quickly drive up the cost, Greenwood city engineer and director of community development services Mark Richards said.
Greenwood needed about 10 years to save up enough money to widen Fry Road between U.S. 31 and Madison Avenue. That distance is about 2,000 feet, compared to 2 miles between State Road 135 and U.S. 31. Since widening is out of the question, the city wants to do smaller projects that can help improve the corridor for drivers and pedestrians, since it’s a major east-west route on the north end of the city, Richards said.
“Those east-west projects are really going to be things we’re going to focus on. Fry Road is an important corridor because it’s the northernmost east-west road the city has any control over. It feeds traffic to the highways,” Richards said.
Trails are an important component of the plans for Fry Road because the area is so highly residential. Fry Road already has a large amount of pedestrian traffic that can’t walk safely along the road, but trails are also a top quality-of-life amenity people look for when moving into an area, Mayor Mark Myers said. An improved trails system will help boost the value and homes in nearby subdivisions such as Timbers Edge, Colonial Meadow and Whispering Trails, Myers said.
“There’s an awful lot of foot traffic on Fry Road. People are cutting through the parking lots and dodging cars. We want to make that area safer and make it more walkable friendly,” Myers said.
The new trail on Fry Road will help fill in some gaps in the city’s trail system by connecting U.S. 31 to existing walkways at Northwest Park, Greenwood parks superintendent Rob Taggart said. That trail can also connect with Howard Road and future trails planned for Main Street that will cross under U.S. 31 and connect to downtown Greenwood.
Road projects also are necessary because commuters and traffic going to Greenwood Park Mall or businesses on State Road 135 have made Fry Road a highly traveled route. Repaving is being done this summer to give drivers a smoother ride, while the city is considering a project to widen the State Road 135 intersection to alleviate backups from people attempting to turn left onto the highway.
That’s a smaller project that can have a big impact without widening the entire 2-mile stretch, Richards said. Doing those road projects now will keep Fry Road in good shape and keep ahead of additional traffic as the city continues to grow, Myers said.
“We’ve got the Fry Road TIF district that is there to help with those types of (projects), and it’s actually what TIF is designed for,” Myers said. “It brings quality of life and quality of place back into the area. We’re trying to make it continue to grow and move up in assessed value.”
Greenwood is paying extra attention to Fry Road, planning multiple projects to improve the east-west corridor between two busy highways. Here’s what’s in the works for the area:
What: Installing a new drainage pipe and filling in a steep open ditch.
Where: From U.S. 31 to Kings Mill Road
Cost: $890,000 (includes trail)
What: A new walking trail from U.S. 31 to the community garden near Fire Station 92.
Where: The trail will be on the north side of Fry Road from U.S. 31 to Kings Mill Road. The trail will cross over to the south side from Kings Mill Road to the existing trail near the community garden.
What: Crews will mill off the existing asphalt and replace it with new pavement.
Where: From State Road 135 to Covered Bridge Road and from Pleasant Run Creek bridge to U.S. 31
What: Widening the State Road 135 intersection to add a second left turn lane.
Where: Westbound lanes of Fry Road at State Road 135
When: 2016 at the earliest. Project has not been approved yet.
Cost: $300,000 to $400,000 estimated
“It’s been ignored a bit. It’s been talked about a long time, and we just decided that talk is no more, we’re just going to do it.”
Greenwood redevelopment commission President Mike Tapp on Fry Road