When the weekend hits, neighborhoods, parking lots and access roads become the route a Center Grove area man takes to get between County Line and Smith Valley roads.

Rick Clark already knows what he will face if he tries to drive on State Road 135: backed up traffic and sitting through rounds of red lights. That’s also why he has found a way to route around Fairview Road and State Road 135 at rush hour, he said.

“On Saturdays, it’s an absolute (mess),” Clark said. “The more businesses and development there is, the more it becomes congested.”

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Heavy traffic on State Road 135 is nothing new. Motorists have been complaining about the backups and traffic jams for years.

But the concern now is whether anything is planned to try to make it better, especially as traffic increases with new developments such as the new Walmart, and as the city makes improvements to help relieve traffic at other roads, such as Fry Road.

Motorists have suggestions on what the state can do, including adding lanes, extending the length of turning lanes or synchronizing the traffic lights along State Road 135.

But right now, no work is planned for at least the next five years, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The Indiana Department of Transportation plans projects for only the next five years. That means the current five-year plan would have to include improvements or upgrades to State Road 135, and currently, highways and roads like State Road 135 aren’t a part of INDOT’s focus, spokesman Harry Maginity said.

Instead, the state is focusing on preserving pavement and bridges across the state, Maginity said.

“I hate to say mobility projects are not a part of our focus right now, but it’s just not where we are,” Maginity said. “Right now, we are finishing what we have started and that’s preservation and moving pavement and bridges up to standard.”

The soonest the state could start any improvements, such as adding a lane on State Road 135 or extending the length of turning lanes, is 2022. And that’s only if the project is added to the next five-year plan, which will be put together at the start of 2017, Maginity said.

The longer it takes for the state to do improvements, the worse the traffic on State Road 135 is going to get, Greenwood resident Steve Burkhardt said. And the backed up traffic and congestion will likely only cause motorists to go other places, which will hurt business along State Road 135, Burkhardt said.

When Lenny Scanton opened K&L Cards along State Road 135 about 15 years ago, traffic congestion wasn’t what it is now, and it’s only increasing and getting worse, Scanton said.

At Orchard Golf Center on State Road 135 between Fairview Road and Meridian Parke Drive, owner Frances Faires watches bumper-to-bumper traffic back up every evening and weekend. She often sees cars dart into her parking lot just to turn around in order to head the other direction because of backed up traffic, Faires said.

For motorists, the fixes seem clear: adding additional turning lanes on State Road 135, or simply extending them to allow for the amount of cars turning onto Fairview and Smith Valley roads and Main Street.

Greenwood resident Jim England would simply like to see traffic lights synced to allow a more fluid flow of traffic, he said.

Timing traffic lights to synchronize better would help at intersections near major box stores such as Walmart, Meijer and Target, Burkhardt said. Burkhardt has lived in Greenwood for almost 40 years, and while the growth and development has been great, the planning to allow State Road 135 to accommodate it has not been the best, he said.

All stop light systems in the state are re-timed if a power outage occurs, or traffic signals are replaced, Maginity said. The stop lights along State Road 135 are monitored every day, Maginity said.

That doesn’t mean INDOT won’t receive calls about lights being out of sync, Maginity said. And when a call comes in, more often than not, the light does need re-timed, so INDOT will send technicians to fix the problem, Maginity said.

“Syncing traffic lights is ongoing,” Maginity said.

Motorists are encouraged to call the INDOT customer service phone line, or write letters expressing their concerns and suggestions for projects that can help traffic flow, Maginity said.

“Anyone who drives along State Road 135 and has an opinion, share it with INDOT,” Maginity said.

The more calls made and letters written regarding suggestions or concerns about traffic, the more likely it is that a project could be added to a five-year plan in the future, Maginity said.

But Clark and Scanton don’t think any of the projects would actually fix the traffic problems because too many people drive on State Road 135 on a daily basis, they said.

“Too many people drive over here. I don’t think anything can be done to make improvements,” Clark said.

At issue

Traffic on State Road 135 has motorists frustrated, and the state says it’s going to be a while before any work is planned to alleviate that congestion. Here are several of the projects you told us you want to see on State Road 135 between Smith Valley and County Line roads: 

  • An added lane both north and south
  • Extending the length of turning lanes so north and south traffic doesn’t back up behind cars waiting to get in the turning lane
  • Roundabouts at Fairview and Smith Valley roads
  • Better synchronizing the traffic lights to create a more fluid flow of traffic
Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at celliot@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2719.