A new entrance into Greenwood will be easier for drivers to navigate now that construction has wrapped up on Worthsville Road.

The work doubled the size of the road from two to four lanes between U.S. 31 and Interstate 65, and was the first segment of a project intended to provide an efficient east-to-west route through Greenwood.

The improvements to the 1.8-mile stretch of road took eight years, cost $17 million and created some headaches for drivers who had to manage detours and closures.

In addition to widening the road, the project added trails on both sides of the road and a roundabout at the intersection of Worthsville and Sheek roads. And the widened Worthsville Road connects to a recently constructed I-65 interchange, which was built as a separate project funded by both the city and state.

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City officials and community leaders gathered this week to celebrate completion of the project between U.S. 31 and I-65.

The wider Worthsville road will help alleviate traffic congestion in downtown Greenwood by providing an alternative route for motorists, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.

The improved road will get people to and from work quicker and safer each day, he said.

City officials have touted the new interchange and newly redone Worthsville Road as being essential for economic growth in Greenwood.

Transit is a prime factor for both new and expanding businesses, Greenwood redevelopment commission president Brent Tilson said.

The former two-lane Worthsville Road was confining and claustrophobic for drivers, Greenwood city engineer Mark Richards said. With power lines right up to the edge of the road, it looked a little bit like driving through a tunnel, he said.

Utility lines were one of the biggest challenges of the project, Richards said.

Eight years seems like a long time for a construction project on less than 2 miles of road, but a lot needed to be done before construction began in 2014, Richards said.

Besides electric poles on either side the road, water, gas and telecommunications utilities either had to be worked around or relocated, he said.

Widening the road allowed for the utility poles to be set back farther from the street, which is safer for drivers, Richards said.

Future work on additional sections of Worthsville road is also planned.

To the east of I-65, Greenwood would make improvements to Worthsville Road from Collins Road to Griffith Road, which is where the road — and the city’s jurisdiction — ends. That section is planned to become an enhanced two-lane road, Richards said.

Johnson County would be responsible for continuing the road east toward Shelby County where it would connect with Interstate 74, he said.

West of U.S. 31, work on expanding Worthsville Road will continue in several phases.

Construction on the first phase — from U.S. 31 to Averitt Road — will begin in 2019, with a roundabout to be installed at the Averitt Road intersection. The next phase — Averitt Road to Honey Creek Road — will begin in 2021.

During the second phase, the 90-degree turn west of Averitt Road will be changed to a sweeping curve to connect Worthsville Road and Stones Crossing Road, Richards said. A roundabout would also be added at Stones Crossing and Honey Creek roads.

Both phases will cost more than $8 million and be paid for with city funds and federal grants that the city was already awarded, Richards said.

Unlike the previous section, the upcoming work will not result in any road closures, he said.

Greenwood is still seeking federal funding for the final phase — from Honey Creek Road to State Road 135, which wouldn’t begin until 2027.

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.