Commuters heading north and south in the county are going to have a much harder time dodging road construction this year.

If you’re using U.S. 31 to avoid construction on Interstate 65, that will work for now.

But then work to replace a small bridge on the highway just south of Pushville Road in Greenwood will start in May and likely bottleneck traffic there too.

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And to top it off, about a dozen other projects that will shut down roads, restrict lanes or squeeze traffic are scheduled in Greenwood and Franklin this year.

Thirteen major projects that are expected to cause disruptions in traffic are scheduled in Johnson County this year.

That doesn’t include the typical road paving, crack filling and road sealing that are done as annual maintenance by the county, cities and towns.

The biggest and potentially most disruptive project is the state’s. Workers will add a lane in each direction to I-65 from Southport Road to State Road 44 in Franklin while also tearing out and rebuilding the existing roadway.

Other projects include a new interstate interchange, a new roundabout in Greenwood, the final phase of road rebuild on North Main Street in Franklin and the first phase of a similar project to tear up Jefferson Street.

The projects are a sign of growing pains for the southside. The continuing list of road projects helps to fix aging infrastructure in need of replacement, catch up with the needs of current traffic and prepare for growth, local officials said.

“Franklin and Greenwood, we’ve not been used to large projects. You hear about large projects, about roundabouts being built and U.S. 31 and Keystone (Avenue) is a mess on the north side. We’re starting to feel some of those pains and take care of those projects now,” Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said.

Good roads are needed for growth but also can be a tool to help spur development, officials said.

The more than $100 million the state is spending to rebuild and widen I-65 in Johnson County is needed because the southside of Indianapolis is positioned to become the next area booming with development, Gov. Mike Pence said during an event in Greenwood in March.

The project will fix up the interstate for the future and improve traffic flow going in and out Indianapolis and its crossroads of interstates.

Although the state is trying to keep traffic flowing about the same as usual, slowdowns are inevitable. But the project is a main component of a $400 million push that’s needed statewide to improve interstates and state highways for the future, Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Harry Maginity said.

“That was for adding lanes to existing interstates to solve congestion and that are within that 50-year-old range of age,” Maginity said. “A lot of highways have problems because they weren’t properly drained or they were clogged up, so this allows us to have a totally new road.”

Roads can’t be underestimated as a driver of economic development, Greenwood and Franklin officials said.

Greenwood is spending $20 million to widen Worthsville Road to a four-lane boulevard, as well as half the cost of the new $22 million interchange being built this year, city engineer and director of community development services Mark Richards said. Road construction shut down Worthsville Road from U.S. 31 to I-65 all of last year and will continue for much of this year too, inconveniencing drivers.

But the long-term payout is expected to be tremendous.

The property around Worthsville Road is currently worth about $100 million total now, but when the land around the interchange is fully developed in 15 or 20 years, the value from new homes and new businesses could reasonably top $1 billion, according to studies the city conducted prior to the projects, Richards said.

The effect should be similar to how the interchange at County Line Road helped open the area to development of new hotels, shops and high-end office space that were built between the interstate and the mall.

“For a relatively small investment of tax dollars, that’s going to spur a tremendous amount of development. We don’t have a crystal ball for sure what that’s going to be, we base that on the historical development of the County Line Road area, but there are some good hard numbers we used to make those estimates,” Richards said.

Roads are also a quality of life aspect, since people want smooth traveling with low congestion.

In Franklin, work on North Main Street and similar projects starting on Jefferson and King streets are being done to fix underground infrastructure, such as water, sewer and storm drains, and add sidewalks and decorative features that make Franklin more attractive for residents, McGuinness said. If people want to live in Franklin or visit Franklin, businesses follow to serve those people.

Construction hasn’t always been easy, such as the first phase of rebuilding North Main Street that had the road shut down for about a year, McGuinness said.

But the city has learned and responded by chopping projects into segments and communicating early and often with residents and businesses about what’s happening, when and why with public meetings, email blasts and doorknob fliers left at homes.

Construction everywhere

More than a dozen road projects are scheduled for this year in Johnson County. Here’s the details:

1. I-65 widening Phase 1

Location: On I-65 from Southport Road to Main Street

What: Adding one additional lane in each direction. Tearing out and rebuilding the road.

Start date: In progress

2. I-65 widening Phase 2

Location: On I-65 from Main Street to State Road 44

What: Adding one additional lane in each direction. Tearing out and rebuilding the road.

Start date: Summer/fall

3. I-65 repaving

Location: On I-65 from State Road 44 to State Road 252

What: Resurfacing all lanes of the interstate

Start date: Summer

4. Worthsville Road interchange

Location: I-65 at Worthsville Road

What: Construction of a new diverging diamond interchange

Start date: In progress

5. Worthsville Road widening

Location: Worthsville Road from U.S. 31 to I-65

What: Widening road to four-lane boulevard and building a new roundabout at Sheek Road

Start date: In progress

6. Culvert replacement

Location: U.S. 31 just south of Pushville Road

What: Replacement of culvert under the highway

Start date: May

7. Main/Averitt roundabout

Location: Intersection of Main Street and Averitt Road

What: Construction of a new roundabout

Start date: June (while school is out)

8. Pearl Street project

Location: Pearl Street from Washington Street into vacant land west of Greenwood Street

What: Reconstruction of road and sidewalk, installation of new sewer lines

Start date: Summer

9. Fry Road stormwater/trail

Location: Fry Road from U.S. 31 to approximately Timbers Edge Crossing

What: Installation of new stormwater lines from U.S. 31 to Polo Run apartments, new trail from U.S. 31 to existing trail near community garden

Start date: Summer

10. Fry Road paving

Location: Fry Road from State Road 135 to Covered Bridge Road, and from Pleasant Run Creek bridge to U.S. 31

What: Pavement replacement

Start date: Summer

11. North Main Street Phase 2

Location: U.S. 31 to post office

What: Tearing out and rebuilding the road. Building new sidewalks and adding decorative features.

Start date: In progress

12. Jefferson Street Phase 1

Location: Jefferson Street from approximately City View Farm apartments to U.S. 31

What: Tearing out and rebuilding the road. Building new sidewalks and adding decorative features.

Start date: Fall

13. State Road 44 straightening

Location: State Road 44 at Centerline Road

What: Removal of sharp S-curve and construction of a new road making a more direct connection.

Start date: Mid- to late-April