For decades, local officials have been talking about the need for an east-west thoroughfare that would connect drivers from Interstate 65 to the future Interstate 69, and more than $31 million is planned to be spent in the next few years to help bring that vision to life.
But residents who live along the route, along with a Greenwood city official, are questioning whether the chosen path is the best one.
Through 2021, the city of Greenwood wants to spend nearly $20 million to upgrade sections of Worthsville Road, mainly west of U.S. 31, widening the road, adding two roundabouts and connecting through a new road to Stones Crossing Road, eliminating two 90-degree turns. The next section would improve the road all the way to State Road 135, a project estimated to cost $11.5 million, but officials aren’t yet sure when it would be done.
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The road would be left at two lanes initially, with enough land available through a grassy median to expand to four lanes in the future. But residents have questioned whether that is necessary, especially since the road will not have an interchange at I-69 and the state also recently took out a planned overpass on Stones Crossing Road.
Instead, they want to see the road be treated more like the city’s vision for Madison Avenue and Emerson Avenue, which are planned to be rebuilt with trails, trees, grass medians and decorative street lamps and signs.
That type of design would be more appropriate to moving traffic through a residential area, rather than a massive four-lane road that is better suited for businesses, said Brent Tilson, a homeowner along Stones Crossing Road who serves as president of the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission.
“I find it odd we are shrinking Madison Avenue, but making Worthsville Road bigger,” Tilson said.
Other residents along the route have also raised concerns about keeping the area residential, and not allowing more commercial development to come in.
Heather Garrett, who lives in the Brighten Estates neighborhood along Honey Creek Road, pointed to the example of a gas station built at Worthsville and Sheek roads near I-65 that residents there strongly opposed. But since the land there was zoned for commercial use already, the city had no choice but to let the development take place.
Rick Campbell, who lives along Stones Crossing Road east of Honey Creek Road, said he is concerned that a widened road will encourage developers to purchase property to build gas stations, stores, shops and other businesses.
The city intends to follow its comprehensive plan and limit development along the route to new homes and neighborhoods, unless unique opportunities come to Greenwood, Mayor Mark Myers said.
But the city has no plans to halt work on the corridor, Myers said.
Plans for the route have been in place for more than a decade and were included in the city’s 2007 comprehensive plan, he said.
The goal is to turn Worthsville and Stones Crossing roads into a primary four-lane route for east-west traffic in the city, and alleviate congestion on other routes such as Smith Valley Road. Some sections of the project are already complete, as work between U.S. 31 and I-65 wrapped up in 2016.
With the addition of the two roundabouts planned along Stones Crossing and Worthsville roads, the corridor could be kept to two lanes on the western sections and still be able to move traffic across the city, Tilson said.
The challenge Greenwood and the Center Grove area faces is that the development of homes and businesses has taken place faster than road improvements, leaving few options as to where new roads can be constructed or current ones can be expanded, Tilson said.
“Development happened, and now the roads are trying to catch up,” Tilson said.
Here’s a look at the upcoming improvements to Worthsville Road and Stones Crossing Road, which the city envisions as being a major route for east-west traffic:
Graham Road to east city limits
Improvements: Rebuilt with two lanes.
Estimated cost: $3.3 million
U.S. 31 to Averitt Road
Improvements: Widened to four and five lanes with a roundabout at the Averitt Road intersection.
Estimated cost: $8.1 million
Averitt Road to Honey Creek Road
Improvements: Road will be re-routed to connect Worthsville and Stones Crossing roads via a curved path, which eliminates two 90-degree turns. Outer two lanes will be built with a grass median that would allow the road to be expanded in the future. A roundabout will be built at the intersection of Stones Crossing and Honey Creek roads.
Estimated cost: $8.2 million
Honey Creek Road to State Road 135
Improvements: Rebuilt and outer two lanes will be built with a grass median that would allow the road to be expanded in the future.
Estimated cost: $11.9 million
Construction: Not determined