Next month, work will begin on a road construction project meant to fix backups and traffic congestion off Interstate 65 in Whiteland.
But, while work to build a new roundabout is going on, motorists will need to find a new route to and from I-65.
The nearly $1 million project will build a new roundabout at Whiteland and Graham roads, west of I-65, replacing a stop sign that is well known for backups, especially during rush hour. Work is set to begin as early as the end of April, and be done by August. But during that time, the intersection will need to close for about 60 days, Whiteland Town Manager Norm Gabehart said.
About 24,000 cars passed through the intersection per day in 2015, said Trent Newport, of Crossroad Engineers, the company that designed the project. That number is expected to grow to as many as 31,000 cars per day by 2035.
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That increase in traffic is one of many reasons why the roundabout was needed, especially since traffic was already an issue there, Gabehart said.
“The congestion during rush hour has always been a problem. The gridlock and stacking at the intersection causes a tremendous amount of traffic on Whiteland Road,” Gabehart said. “Because it’s a four-way stop, the stacking up will go as far as three-fourths of a mile.”
After the intersection is revamped, motorists going into the one-lane roundabout won’t have to come to a complete stop at the stop sign, and will instead yield to traffic, which means no more long lines of cars at Graham and Whiteland roads, Gabehart said.
Once the roundabout is done, the gridlocked traffic and backed up vehicles, especially during the morning and evening rush hour, should be greatly improved. Officials hope the project will even bring more traffic to use the exit off I-65, since some motorists avoid it now due to the traffic issues, Gabehart said.
Efforts to find a fix for the traffic issues at the intersection began years ago, Gabehart said. The project was originally going to be done by Johnson County, but was transferred to the town of Whiteland when it annexed the area. The county received a federal grant that covers 80 percent of the project’s $980,000 price tag, Gabehart said.
To complete the project, the town had to spend about $140,000 on property at each corner of the intersection, including two farm fields and two front yards of homes. But the four homes next to the intersection won’t be affected, Gabehart said.
Town officials also decided to take advantage of the 60-day road closure and complete a repaving project on Whiteland Road, between I-65 and Graham Road, which will cost a little more than $100,000, Gabehart said.
During the closure, motorists will have to go east to Hurricane Road after exiting I-65. From Hurricane Road, they’ll either go north to Tracy Road or south to Paul Hand Boulevard, where they can head west to U.S. 31.
Semis will have to go south to the Franklin exit on I-65, go west on King Street and turn onto Eastview Drive. They’ll have to follow Eastview Drive — the city’s truck route — to Commerce Parkway and then go to U.S. 31. That detour was decided by designers because it is already a heavily traveled semi route, and taking I-65 south to the next exit will be quicker, Gabehart said.
Landscaping, such as shrubs in the center of the roundabout and small trees on the outside, will be complete in the fall, Gabehart said.
The town of Whiteland will build a roundabout at the intersection of Graham and Whiteland roads this spring. The construction will take about 90 days. The intersection will close for 60 of those days while crews work on the project. Here is the timeline of the project and the work included:
- April to August: Construction of the new roundabout
- Intersection will be closed for 60 days. Motorists can take Hurricane Road to connect to Tracy Road to the north and Paul Hand Boulevard to the south. Semi traffic will take Interstate 65 to the Franklin exit, head west on King Street to Eastview Drive and follow it north to Commerce Parkway, leading them to U.S. 31.
- Fall: After the roundabout opens, landscaping and beautification work be done.