Construction of a new grocery store and shopping center had already made a busy Center Grove intersection harder to get through, but in the last month it got worse.
For several weeks, traffic has been backing up a mile or more at the intersection of State Road 135 and Smokey Row Road, especially during rush hour.
The problem? A faulty traffic signal.
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Sensors under the road weren’t picking up cars as they passed through the intersection on State Road 135. Instead, the signals were shorting, and the light for north and south traffic was only staying green for about 10 seconds, Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Harry Maginity said.
Meanwhile, east and west traffic along Smokey Row Road was given a green light for about 30 seconds, Maginity said.
“The traffic signals are faulty; they’re just not working right,” Maginity said. “It’s not very common, but they do fail.”
On Tuesday, workers temporarily adjusted the intersection’s traffic signals, giving equal green light time for all directions. Crews were at the intersection on Wednesday fixing the issue with the sensors so that the traffic flow would control the timers on the signals, Maginity said.
But motorists say that doesn’t fix all the traffic issues at that intersection that more than 20,000 vehicles pass through daily, especially in the last several months as a new Kroger store and shopping center has been under construction.
Traffic on State Road 135 has been bad for years, so the backups at that intersection come as no surprise, Greenwood resident Tom Bridges said.
But lately, Bridges doesn’t even bother going south of Stones Crossing Road toward the intersection at Smokey Row Road because traffic backups are getting so bad, he said.
Construction of the new Kroger at the southeast corner of the intersection has slowed the flow of traffic as entrances are constructed along the shoulder of State Road 135, Greenwood resident Karen Hauschild said. Due to the construction, traffic slows down when approaching the intersection.
Other motorists are concerned about what traffic will be like when that work is done, and the new 100,000-square-foot-store, gas station and shopping center is built on the 15-acre property.
One key issue is the lack of right turn lanes on State Road 135, Hauschild said. That was an issue motorists brought up last year after the state added the traffic light and left turn lanes to the intersection, but officials said when the traffic study was completed, it didn’t indicate a need for right turn lanes.
The amount of cars passing through the area will only add to that problem when Kroger opens, Hauschild said.
Currently, when cars turn right onto Smokey Row Road, it slows down traffic because motorists behind the vehicle turning have to slow down. The one lane is already narrow and sharing it between cars going straight and turning just makes it worse, Hauschild said.
“I haven’t seen anyone really upset, but it’s just not a wide enough intersection. It’s very narrow, and it could get worse dealing with traffic we are going to get from Kroger,” Hauschild said. “I’m just toughing it out right now.”