Commuters: your daily drive will soon get a little bit easier.
Paving work on U.S. 31 between Franklin and Greenwood is wrapping up and is planned to be finished by July 4, leaving one fewer major southside route under construction.
Work began in April to repave U.S. 31 between Westview Drive in Franklin and Stop 18 Road in Greenwood. And commuters immediately began reporting traffic headaches, with lanes being narrowed or closed and traffic backing up, especially after an accident or backup on Interstate 65, since U.S. 31 is the typical detour.
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This week, crews finished paving the four lanes of U.S. 31 and now are working to wrap up work on the turn lanes and shoulders, said Harry Maginity, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation Seymour district.
Workers are starting with paving the left turn lanes and median crossovers and then will move onto right turn lanes and shoulders, he said. Crews also will be painting new stripes on the highway. You can expect some delays and short closures while that work is going on, he said.
But all work is expected to be done by July 4.
When the project was announced, it prompted a collective groan from commuters, residents and businesses, who already had tired of road construction. With I-65 under construction between Greenwood and Franklin, where workers are adding a new lane in each direction, they wondered how bad traffic would be.
Backups and slow traffic have definitely been a topic of conversation at Beck Automotive, off U.S. 31 in Franklin, service writer Mark Carrithers said.
But luckily, it hasn’t stopped customers from coming in, he said.
The work did reroute some buses for Access Johnson County, the county’s public transportation service, director Becky Allen said.
Some buses, such as the ones that travel U.S. 31 throughout the day, couldn’t change their route and just prepared for a bit longer travel time. But some drivers used other routes to avoid the highway during construction, she said.
Now that the work is done, drivers are happy with the new, smooth surface, she said.
But don’t celebrate too much just yet. Construction season is only just beginning.
Once work ends on U.S. 31, the same crew will move west to repave State Road 37 through Johnson County, Maginity said. State officials didn’t want both highways under construction at the same time, so work on State Road 37 was slated to be done after U.S. 31.
And work will continue on I-65, including some shifts in traffic after the July 4th holiday, Maginity said.
That project was slightly delayed at the start of this construction season since officials wanted to make some changes in the design for how water drains. But it is moving along now, with crews rebuilding the Main Street bridge in Greenwood and the Hurricane Road bridge near Whiteland.
Crews also are working now to remove pavement in the northbound lanes of the interstate. And after July 4, three lanes of traffic between Whiteland and Franklin will shift to the southbound side of the road so crews can rebuild the northbound lanes, he said. One northbound lane will remain open for vehicles exiting and entering.