A Bargersville man already knew cars would routinely speed past his house on County Road 144, but last summer he got proof.
When the police department put up a temporary speed monitor on the side of County Road 144, the first two cars Ed Reinders watched drive by were going about 20 mph over the speed limit, he said.
When traffic is busiest, such as around 5:30 p.m. on weekday evenings, getting out of his home on County Road 144, just west of State Road 135, can be a challenge. Reinders and his neighbor share a driveway, which allows him to turn around so he doesn’t have to back out onto the road. But even then, several minutes can pass before an opening in traffic, said Reinders, who moved to Bargersville from Iowa about a year ago to be closer to his daughter.
In the nearby Three Notch Village neighborhood, resident Mary Leonard avoids exiting the neighborhood onto County Road 144 whenever possible, choosing instead to take a side road to turn onto State Road 135.
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However bad the traffic may be now, officials say it will get much busier once Interstate 69 is built, and County Road 144 becomes one of the three interchanges in Johnson County.
Johnson County and Bargersville are paying $158,000 for a consultant, HWC Engineering, to study current and future traffic patterns on most of the major routes through the Center Grove area, information that will help the county and town prioritize road improvements and make plans to manage the development of new businesses and homes.
Some solutions already are being considered. The town is looking to either install traffic lights or build a roundabout at the intersection of County Road 144 and Morgantown Road, a project necessitated by Walnut Grove Elementary School, which is set to open in 2019.
Long-term fixes, such as widening County Road 144, remain a possibility, but the largest challenge the town will face will be figuring out how to fund those projects, council member Ken Zumstein said.
The town has been looking into possible funding options, such as federal and state grants. Another option is an infrastructure impact fee, which would require developers to pay a set amount of money to the town when new buildings are constructed, money that could be set aside for projects on County Road 144, Zumstein said.
The fee would be similar to another one the town approved last year, in which developers pay $748 for every house they construct, with the money set aside for the town to develop and expands its parks, Zumstein said.
Another concern from residents is what will become of the undeveloped land between State Road 37 and State Road 135. Some worry that it could eventually resemble sections of State Road 135, with clusters of businesses, shops and restaurants lining each side.
Once studies are complete, the town is going to need to look into completing another comprehensive plan, which would lay out where development should happen, Zumstein said.
Getting plans in place and started before I-69 comes through Johnson County is vital, he said.
Zumstein would favor limiting commercial development to intersections with heavier traffic, and leaving the remaining undeveloped land along County Road 144 for new neighborhoods.
Across the road from Reinders’ home on County Road 144 is an 8-acre, undeveloped property. His concern is that the property, which is currently zoned for agricultural use, could be turned into a shopping area.
For a business owner along County Road 144, traffic is a concern. But Dana Christenson wants more traffic to pass by Pump House Antiques, the shop she owns with her husband John in a former one-story funeral home south of County Road 144 and west of the railroad crossing.
Her only complaint about County Road 144 is the difficulty of accessing her business from Main Street. Drivers on County Road 144 at that four-way stop tend to ignore drivers on the side street, she said.
“People pause, they don’t really stop,” Christenson said. “That is a dangerous intersection because the road meets at a funny angle.”
With the impending construction of Interstate 69 along State Road 37, Bargersville residents and business owners are wondering what that will mean for County Road 144.
The plan for I-69: The final path, which cuts through Johnson County in Bargersville and the Center Grove area along State Road 37, has been approved, but construction in the county may not begin for another decade. An interchange is planned at County Road 144.
The concerns: That I-69 will lead to increased traffic on County Road 144, making it difficult and unsafe to drive on, and that much of the land between the interstate and State Road 135 will turn into commercial development.
What the town is doing: Bargersville and Johnson County have hired a consultant to study future traffic patterns and assist with a plan for managing the development of businesses and homes along I-69.
What’s next: After that plan is complete, the town may revisit its comprehensive plan, used to guide what can and can’t be built when new development takes place.