With a new elementary school set to open next year and hundreds of new homes coming, an intersection near Bargersville is going to get a lot busier.
The intersection of County Road 144 and Morgantown Road is currently a four-way stop by signage, surrounded by homes. But next year, the new Walnut Grove Elementary School is set to open with room for more than 800 students, and developers are planning hundreds of homes nearby.
That means the offset intersection needs to be redesigned, local officials said.
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Officials with Bargersville, Johnson County and Center Grove schools are working together on a plan to redesign the intersection. Bargersville already has purchased property at the southeast corner, and is looking to buy land at the southwest corner, and the county is getting appraisals for property at the northeast corner.
How the intersection could be changed and rebuilt, and when, hasn’t been decided. But a roundabout is one of the top ideas, and officials hope to be able to make some improvements before the new school opens for the 2019-20 school year, Johnson County Highway Department Director Luke Mastin said.
“It probably won’t all be done before the school opens, but we are looking at prioritizing what is most important so we can do what we can before the school opens and do the rest later,” Mastin said.
Paying for the project will be the biggest issue, Bargersville Town Council member Kenneth Zumstein said.
Any project must first be designed before an estimate can be done on what it would cost, and then the town, county and school district will have to discuss where the money could come from, he said.
One option is applying for a Community Crossing grant from the state, which comes from money set aside for local projects, for the project that will cost millions, Mastin said. But federal funding likely isn’t an option because of the short timeframe officials hope to be able to work in, he said.
Officials want to be sure that whatever money is spent there will not be wasted, and will improve traffic long-term, Zumstein said.
That intersection will only get busier in future years, and the town wants to be proactive, he said.
The county also is looking at making improvements closer to the new school, since that is expected to bring in a significant amount of traffic, especially during morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up, Mastin said. The main goals are to improve traffic flow and safety in the area, he said.
The area near the intersection was already prime for development with County Road 144 being an interchange for the future Interstate 69, Mastin said. But with the new elementary school under construction, that has been expedited, he said.
Improvements are slightly complicated by the fact that the intersection is offset, meaning the roads don’t align perfectly. And anything that will need to be done will require land around the intersection to be purchased, Mastin said. But officials hope to impact as few properties as possible, Mastin said.
But by buying property now from residents who want to sell, the design of the intersection won’t face as many restrictions and a project can move forward more easily, Zumstein said.
Improvements are being considered for the intersection of County Road 144 and Morgantown. Here is a look at what is happening:
Who: Johnson County, Bargersville and Center Grove schools are partnering on potential improvements.
Why: A new Center Grove school, Walnut Grove Elementary School, is set to open for the 2019-2020 school year just south of the intersection with room for more than 800 students, and hundreds of new homes are planned nearby in the coming years.
What: The exact design of what will be done hasn’t been decided, but the intersection doesn’t align properly, which officials want to fix. A roundabout is being considered.
When: No timeline has been set for the project, but officials hope to make some improvements before Walnut Grove next year.