The number of residents choosing to make Johnson County home has the county bucking the statewide trend of slow or little population growth.
Johnson County was the third fastest-growing county in the state in 2016, according to new population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The county, which is the 11th largest in Indiana, has consistently been one of the fastest growing in the state. The influx of new residents since 2010 keeps local officials updating and adjusting plans to make sure roads are built or rebuilt to move traffic smoothly through the area and infrastructure is in place for new homes and businesses.
Another 2,644 new residents came to Johnson County in 2016 through either families growing or choosing to relocate here, for a total growth of 1.8 percent from the prior year. Only Hamilton and Boone counties on the northside of Indianapolis saw faster-growing populations. Hancock County, located on the east side of Indianapolis, also recorded a 1.8 percent population growth.
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Since 2010, the population of Johnson County has grown by 8 percent. The county had 140,000 residents in 2010, which has risen to nearly 152,000 in 2016.
That means more children enrolled in local schools, more motorists on the roads, busier shops and restaurants, and more calls to police and fire departments.
That hasn’t been the experience for many Indiana counties.
Fifty-three of the state’s 92 counties lost population from 2015 to 2016, and the drop was led by Lake County, which lost an estimated 1,800 residents last year, according to the data analysis by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
University researchers cited lower birth rates since the recession as one of the primary causes behind the declining population. About two-thirds of Indiana counties also had more people leave their communities than new residents moving in.
However, more than 2,000 people moved to Johnson County in 2016, the release said.
Construction of single family homes in Johnson County increased by 2 percent last year with 594 building permits issued in 2016 compared to 583 in 2015. Home construction permits peaked most recently in 2014 after falling to less than 300 during the recession.
Most of the new homes were built in Greenwood, unincorporated Johnson County, Bargersville and Franklin.
County and city officials are looking ahead to make sure infrastructure is in place for a population that is expected to continue to rise. Examples include plans to widen Worthsville Road on the east side of the county or Smith Valley Road on the west side in anticipation of Interstate 69. Plans call for Worthsville Road to be eventually widened from U.S. 31 to State Road 135 and for the section within the city limits east of I-65 to be improved.
With the development of the last stage of Interstate 69, which will cut through the northwest corner of Johnson County, coming closer to fruition, plans are in place to make improvements to infrastructure in the Center Grove area. Smith Valley Road to be widened to two lanes from I-69 to the Greenwood city limits in order to handle the extra traffic expected from I-69.
In addition to widening some of the major east-west thoroughfares, roundabouts are planned at several intersection along Smith Valley Road at Madison Avenue and Yorktown Road to combat traffic backups common during morning and evening rush hours.
To prepare for an anticipated home and business growth, the Greenwood City Council approved a proposal to double the capacity of Greenwood’s sewer system, which also serves a portion of the Center Grove area. The council approved sewer rate increases last fall to fund a $62.2 million, 10-mile sewer pipeline starting in western Greenwood and traveling northwest to Indianapolis.
The new line is intended to both mitigate current overflows as well as account for the planned growth on the northwest side of Johnson County.