State set to straighten dangerous stretch of State Road 44

Drivers will have a smoother, safer ride after a dangerous curve on a state highway west of Franklin is turned into a more direct path.

About one-quarter of a mile of State Road 44 will be straightened, starting at the intersection of South Centerline Road. The Indiana Department of Transportation is spending nearly $1.7 million to reconstruct the road, according to spokesman Harry Maginity.

Since 2005, 77 accidents have occurred at the intersection of State Road 44 and South Centerline Road, resulting in 20 injuries and nearly 60 cases of cars or other property being damaged, according to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

The speed limit on that portion of State Road 44 is 45 mph, but signs suggest traveling through the curve at 20 to 35 mph due to the sharp turns.

The road will shift as much as 1,500 feet west of the current route this summer, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation’s plans.

Work is slated to start mid-April, but State Road 44 will remain open for the majority of the five-month construction project. South Centerline Road will be closed at the intersection starting next month while construction is underway, Maginity said.

Residents on South Centerline Road will be able to leave their home through detours instead of using the intersection of South Centerline Road and State Road 44, Maginity said.

State Road 44 will be closed for 15 days in mid-June, when the current roadway is shifted to the new route, Maginity said.

Detours have not yet been announced, Maginity said.

Maintenance crews started cutting down trees this week along State Road 44 so that utility companies could move their power lines in preparation of construction. Signs also have been set up along State Road 44 to alert motorists of the upcoming construction.

About five homes are located on the curve on State Road 44. The final design of the straightened road has not been released by the state, but the new route will mostly be built on farmland. The new road will not be a straight line through the quarter-mile section, but the curve will be significantly reduced, Maginity said.

Along with the road realignment, three drainage culverts will be installed under South Centerline Road and State Road 44 to let water flow from Ray Creek.