Everywhere Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers has been this summer, residents have had something to say about road construction.
Some complain about closed streets and blocked entrances. Others ask why traffic is funneled down to one lane and how long they’ll have to use detours. Several have praised Myers and the city for finally getting much needed work done. And the rest just want to know when all the construction will end.
Whatever the tone might be, the topic doesn’t come as a surprise to Myers. Since May, more than five projects have closed roads or lanes in the city, and all are going on at the same time.
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Myers views the projects as a sign of the progress the city is making with redevelopment.
“Financially, the planning has come into play where all these things can get done, where we can do multiple projects at the same time. It’s more cost effective,” Myers said.
And, believe it or not, doing multiple projects at once was part of the city’s plan to be as efficient as possible, he said.
“It’s easier. If a sewer line needs to be replaced, but the area doesn’t have stormwater drainage, let’s put in the drains while we redo the sewer and the street at the same. One project, do it right, and there’s less maintenance in years to follow,” Myers said.
For example, when the city hired crews to begin work on a sewer line beneath Pearl Street, officials looked at all other work that needed to be done in the area. The sewer line was already planned to be completed in phases, closing Pearl Street at different intersections. So officials decided to also add a stormwater drain and contacted utility companies, such as Vectren and Indiana American Water, to encourage them to do any work they had planned for those areas at the same time, city engineer Mark Richards said.
Now, after that is done, the city can repave the road and put in new sidewalks knowing no utility projects are planned that would tear up the new road or sidewalks, Richards said.
City officials also considered impacts on traffic when planning this summer’s projects, even if motorists don’t agree.
For example, while Main Street was closed at Averitt Road for the construction of a roundabout, the city couldn’t begin work on Fry Road. That’s because motorists would need to use Fry Road to get between State Road 135 and U.S. 31 while Main Street was closed for 60 days, Richards said.
When the city plans a project, officials have to make sure if one main road is closed, another main road remains open to take on added traffic, Richards said. For example, when Madison Avenue was closed at Pearl Street, motorists had to use Meridian Street as a detour.
Where some might see inconvenience, city officials see one of the most productive summers the city has had in years, dating back to when Emerson Avenue was changed from two lanes to four lanes in 2002, Richards said.
This summer, the city spent more than $25 million on road projects, which came from grants, federal funding and money collected in the city’s tax-increment financing districts. The city worked for more than a year to line up the funding so that all the work could be done this summer and fall.
One of those projects, turning two-lane Worthsville Road into a four-lane boulevard, likely will not be completed by the end of November and will carry into next year, starting back up in April, Richards said. It would join the city’s list of projects still to come, including work to the busy intersection of State Road 135 and Smith Valley. But he said this year’s projects checked off needs officials had wanted to address for more than two years.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but we have taken some fairly significant steps to address needs,” Richards said. “Any projects dealing with east and west traffic flow have been needed for a long time. Main Street and Averitt Road roundabout, that project has significantly decreased delays because it allows traffic in both directions to flow freely.
“A lot of projects that are needed are complete or in process, but there are other needs out there as well.”
City officials begin planning for a project years in advance and usually in responses to continued calls, complaints or concerns in particular areas.
Next, the city is focused on State Road 135 and Smith Valley Road.
In 2019, the city wants to build two roundabouts on Smith Valley Road, on either side of State Road 135, and eliminate left turns from Smith Valley Road. Instead of going into a left-turn lane and waiting for an arrow, you would cross State Road 135, go around a roundabout on the other side, come back to the intersection with Smith Valley Road and then make a right turn.
Greenwood wouldn’t be the first community to create what is called a “Michigan left” at a busy intersection but would be the first in Indiana to do it with roundabouts, officials have said.
“State Road 135 during rush hour is horrible. Some things need to be addressed. We’ll get calls on certain hot spot areas that we take a look at. We proceed, and they’ll eventually become a project. It’s calls from residents, city employees, fire and police department; we listen and look.
“It doesn’t always become a project, but we look at each and every issue.”
Here is a look at road construction projects in Greenwood:
Averitt Road and Main Street roundabout
Resurfacing of Main Street, Market Plaza, Fry Road
Completion: End of September
Fry Road trails, culvert
Completion: End of November
Pearl Street project
Completion: End of November
Cost: $2.7 million
Adding lanes to Worthsville Road
Completion: If not done by Nov. 30, the project would resume in April.
Cost: $19.5 million
SOURCE: City controller’s office