Since purchasing a barber shop in Greenwood about four years ago, a business owner already has had to endure one street closure due to construction, and is concerned about how another will impact her business.
Elizabeth Groth, who owns Walt’s Barber Shop at 105 S. Madison Ave., posted signs and used social media to make sure customers knew she was open, but still had a 50 percent drop in business when parts of Madison Avenue and Pearl Street were closed for a sewer line repair in 2015. Now, she fears the same may happen when the city reconstructs Madison Avenue.
Potential drops in customers during construction are a definite concern, but for owners of business that line Madison Avenue — many of which are based out of former homes — the other concern is how the changes planned for the north-south route will impact them long-term.
Story continues below gallery
Greenwood plans to spend $12.5 million to do a full reconstruction of Madison Avenue, from Smith Valley Road to County Line Road. The reconstructed road won’t have a center turn lane in many sections, with the city planning to use that extra space to widen sidewalks and add bike lanes. The goal is to slow down vehicle traffic and increase pedestrian and bicycle traffic in downtown Greenwood, something city officials said will benefit local businesses.
Work on the first section of the project — from Pearl Street to Noble Street — is planned for next summer and will cost about $2 million.
The main concern from business owners is how traffic will get through, how customers will get to them and how deliveries will be made without the center turn lane. Drivers looking to get to many of the businesses along Madison Avenue need to use the turn lane in order to make left hand turns, Groth said.
Without that turn lane, she worries that fewer people will choose to go to downtown business because of the additional challenges in getting to them.
“This isn’t going to be better for us,” Groth said. “How will people get here to turn into my business when they can’t cross traffic?”
Those are concerns that the city will be working with its engineers and consultants to address, Greenwood Capital Projects Manager Kevin Steinmetz said. A consultant is preparing designs for the project. The city plans to have a public meeting in November to get feedback from residents, he said.
He cited Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis as an example of a lengthy stretch of businesses and restaurants along a two-way road without a center turn lane.
Scott Eanes, who owns Take Root Country Store at 202 N. Madison Ave., said the removal of the center turn lane also is a concern because the lane often is used by semi-trucks making deliveries.
Having delivery trucks stop in the middle of Madison Avenue isn’t a sustainable plan, and the city will be working with business and restaurants to figure out a better way of getting deliveries, Steinmetz said.
Eanes isn’t opposed to the project, so long as the city does a good job with it. He cited downtown Franklin as an example of what he would like Madison Avenue to look like, with decorative lighting, signs and benches.
Those are all features the city is looking into including in the project if funding is available, Steinmetz said. Other aspects being looked at include decorative pavers for crosswalks, he said.
Jackie Poe, who owns The Flower Market, at 199 N. Madison Ave., said that she would expect a drop-off of about 30 percent of her customers during construction. The fact that her business also takes phone orders will help mitigate the problem, she said.
To help drivers access businesses, only half of Madison Avenue will be closed at any time, Steinmetz said.
The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission is considering a reconstruction of Madison Avenue. The board has approved hiring consultants to create designs for the work, but has yet to approve funding for construction.
Where: Madison Avenue, from Smith Valley Road to County Line Road
When: Work from Noble to Pearl streets could start next year.
Cost: $12.5 million estimate
What: Madison Avenue will be reconstructed with a bike lane and wider sidewalks added, and the center turn lane being removed in some sections.