County planning road improvements to ease traffic congestion

In five years, a roundabout could be built or traffic lights could be added at a busy Center Grove area intersection that backs up daily with residents heading to neighborhoods, stores or restaurants on State Road 135.

Roads that carry traffic to State Road 37 to the west and Interstate 74 to the east would be wider, with more room for shoulders at the sides of the road.

The intersection of Peterman and Fairview roads, County Road 144 and a connector road off Worthsville Road east of Interstate 65 are the top priorities the county has identified on its wishlist for millions of dollars in federal grants for road projects in 2020 and 2021.

The goal is to get federal grants for larger projects, so the county can spend locally collected tax dollars repaving and widening roads, especially those in west and east portions of the county, Johnson County Highway Director Luke Mastin said.

One of the top priorities is improving the traffic flow at Peterman and Fairview roads, which is currently a four-way stop. The solution: Add traffic lights or turn the intersection into a roundabout, he said.

If a roundabout were built, it would be the first in the county since one opened at Peterman and Morgantown roads in 2010, Mastin said. The county has seen how well that roundabout improved traffic, so Mastin is confident it would have a similar impact at Peterman and Fairview roads.

The issue is the cost. Five years ago, the county spent $1 million on the roundabout at Peterman and Morgantown roads, and Mastin knows the price has gone up.

The intersection of Leisure Lane and Peterman Road, which also is a four-way stop less than a mile away, is also on the fix list, Mastin said.

The two other road project priorities are in more rural areas but would be key to helping traffic connect across the county to Interstate 74, Mastin said.

Mastin wants to create roads to connect Worthsville Road to the Shelby County line, helping traffic flow east-west. That is a project the county has been discussing and working on for decades. Most recently, the county approved spending $3.8 million to create a connector road between Worthsville Road and Clark School Road. With the federal grant money, Mastin wants to extend the connector from Clark School Road and nearby Franklin Road to the Shelby County line.

The second route is County Road 144, west of Whiteland Road to State Road 37.

Less than five years ago, the county constructed a roundabout at Whiteland Road and County Road 144 and widened Whiteland Road to four lanes. Now, County Road 144 needs to be widened and straightened and needs wider shoulders to make room for traffic heading from State Road 37 to Shelby County, Mastin said.

“Improvements to (County Road) 144 and improvements to the east part of the county to connect Worthsville Road to Shelby County have been part of the county’s plans for a long time, for the east-west connectivity,” Mastin said. “Those are sections that we haven’t secured funding for yet, so we haven’t pursued design yet.”

Without grant or loan money from federal and state agencies, the county wouldn’t be able to fund the projects, he said.

The 2½ miles of County Road 144 that need to be reconstructed most likely would be broken into three or four smaller projects, Mastin said. That way, if State Road 37 is used as the route to connect Interstate 69 to Interstate 465, the county’s plans for County Road 144 near State Road 37 wouldn’t need to be changed, he said.

At a glance

The Johnson County Highway Department wants to apply for a federal grant for major road projects in the county. Here’s a look at the projects:

County Road 144

Where: County Road 144, between State Road 37 and the Whiteland Road roundabout

What: Reconstruct the road by widening it, repaving it and increasing the size of the shoulders on both sides.

Peterman and Fairview roads

Where: Current 4-way stop

What: Turn the 4-way stop into a roundabout or install traffic signals

Worthsville Road

Where: 3 or 4 miles on the east side of the county, from Franklin Road to the Shelby County line

What: Reconstructing the road and improving the east-west connector across Johnson County