After months of detours, construction crews and longer travel time to work, a busy Greenwood intersection is scheduled to reopen, and the design is meant to improve traffic flow.
Drivers used to wait at a stop sign on Averitt Road for traffic to drive by on Main Street, sometimes causing delays as long as 15 minutes. When vehicles were turning left onto Averitt Road from Main Street, that would cause backups too, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.
Since June, the intersection has been closed, leading to backups on nearby Smith Valley Road and Howard Road due to thousands of vehicles looking for a new way to cross the city.
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But the intersection will reopen Friday with a roundabout, sidewalks, street lighting and storm sewer drains. Landscaping will be put in this fall. Main Street also was repaved from the roundabout through Madison Avenue.
The goal of the roundabout — the first in the city — is to fix the frequent backups and to help traffic move through the intersection consistently.
Officials picked this intersection for the city’s first roundabout based on the amount of traffic that travels through daily, Myers said.
In the next few years, the city plans to build about a dozen roundabouts, including at State Road 135 and Smith Valley Road and Smith Valley Road and Madison Avenue. Construction has started on one at Sheek and Worthsville roads. Enough safety reports and data analysis have been done to demonstrate that roundabouts are a safer, environmentally friendly alternative for tricky intersections, he said.
About 21,000 vehicles drive on Main Street or Averitt Road daily; but by 2034, about 25,000 drivers per day are projected to travel on the roads, according to a news release from the city.
“We’ve done quite a few traffic studies, and this is one area where we have severe traffic backups every day,” Myers said.
Vehicles sometimes are backed up on Main Street all the way to U.S. 31, about a quarter-mile away, he said. And if drivers are traveling west on Main Street as the sun goes down, they can have a hard time seeing the backed-up traffic or a driver trying to turn left onto Averitt Road, he said.
The exhaust from stopped vehicles during traffic build-up also made the intersection an environmental concern, Myers said.
The $583,900 cost of the project was paid for by the city and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization. The roundabout qualified for funding through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program from the Federal Highway Administration.
Originally, the city had planned to open the intersection by Aug. 1, but that date had to be pushed back because construction was delayed by rain.
During the closure, motorists have had to avoid using Main Street for about two months, causing frustration from drivers trying to find the best detours to get around town. The timing of the traffic light at Smith Valley and Averitt roads was changed to accommodate heavier traffic on Smith Valley Road during construction.
The city got complaints about Main Street being closed from west of Averitt Road to U.S. 31, Myers said. But this summer the city has had multiple construction zones that have made driving through the city difficult, he said.
After two months of drivers taking detours around Main Street and Averitt Road, the first roundabout in Greenwood is to open Friday. Here’s a look at the details of the first roundabout:
Total cost of project: $583,900
Weeks intersection was closed: 10
Number of vehicles that travel on Main Street and Averitt Road per day: About 21,000
Number of vehicles projected to travel on Main Street and Averitt Road by 2034: About 25,000
Number of possible roundabouts planned for Greenwood: About 12