A new grocery store is set to open at a busy Center Grove intersection this summer, and more than two dozen shops and restaurants are expected to follow.
That means more options for Bargersville and southern White River Township residents. But it also means more traffic at the already busy intersection of Smokey Row Road and State Road 135.
The developer of the new shopping center is doing nearly $1 million in road improvement work, including adding and lengthening turn lanes and rebuilding a section of Smokey Row Road, requiring the road to be closed just east of State Road 135 for about a month.
No work is planned on State Road 135 by the state, officials said. Last year, the state added a stoplight at the intersection, along with left turn lanes. But that section of State Road 135 is just south of where the state stopped widening the busy road to four lanes.
The state originally planned on widening the road further south, but no timeline has been set for that project.
City officials and developers say that the work planned for the intersection in preparation of the new Kroger and shopping center will help with the traffic those shops are expected to draw.
The city required the developer to make certain improvements to Smokey Row Road, including rebuilding the section of road in front of the Kroger and shopping center, and adding turn lanes, Greenwood city engineer Mark Richards said.
In addition, the developer is extending turn lanes along State Road 135, so that traffic is less likely to back up on the busy north-south route, developer Bob Barker said.
A traffic study was done showing what work was needed to nearby roads, and that is being done, plus more, Barker said. The company is paying for the roadwork, which will cost nearly $1 million, Barker said.
The city required the section of Smokey Row Road to be rebuilt in order to prepare what had been a rural, county road for an increase in the volume and weight of vehicles using it, Richards said.
“The amount of traffic is going to increase so dramatically, those old county road sections are not capable of handling that,” Richards said.
Ideally, the city would love to see the road rebuilt all the way to Honey Creek Road, but that is not a reasonable request for a development that doesn’t touch that route, Richards said.
The new Kroger and shopping center, which will include 18 to 20 tenants plus another five outlots with space for restaurants and other businesses, will be the first large development in the city’s new tax-increment financing, or TIF, district along State Road 135. So Barker hopes the property tax dollars the city will set aside from that development can help pay for road improvements in the future, he said.
When the city created that TIF district, improvements along Smokey Row Road and Honey Creek Road were part of a $74 million plan for future infrastructure improvements.
The high-traffic intersection is a popular spot, but is also outside of the most congested areas along State Road 135. Barker’s hope is that by adding new stores and services to that intersection, it will offer more options for residents and potentially help with traffic further north on State Road 135, since shoppers will have another place to go, he said.
“It will give folks another alternative to avoid the congestion north of us,” Barker said.
“I would drive an extra mile or two to an area that is easier to get around.”
Barker couldn’t discuss what types of shops and businesses are planned to move in, but said they will include restaurants and other services that area will benefit from. The property also has more open land that can be used for more development in the future, he said.
Tenants have been arranged for about 70 percent of the shopping center, Barker said.