At the eastern edge of Greenwood, a road planned as a main route for east-west traffic comes to a dead end and two lanes of pavement give way to hundreds of acres of farmland.
For decades, city and county officials have discussed and debated the best ways to move traffic east and west across Johnson County, and construction on a key part of that project is planned to begin next year. The construction of about 1.5 miles of new road is the first step in connecting Worthsville Road, which leads to Interstate 65 and U.S. 31, to Clark School Road, which turns into County Road 400N in Shelby County and connects with Interstate 74.
That $3.9 million project is just one of several that will eventually result in a new, clear-cut path taking traffic from I-74 in Shelby County to I-65, U.S. 31 and eventually Interstate 69 in Johnson County.
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Greenwood has spent the past few years making significant improvements to its section of Worthsville Road. An interchange with I-65 opened in 2015, and the road was widened between I-65 and U.S. 31.
For now, drivers heading to I-74 have to take a couple of narrow county roads and navigate 90-degree turns to get from Worthsville Road to Clark School Road. Past plans called for an S-curve connecting Worthsville Road with Clark School Road, Johnson County Highway Director Luke Mastin said.
But, at the request of Clark-Pleasant Schools, which didn’t want additional traffic passing by Clark Elementary School on Clark School Road, the county is instead going to connect Worthsville Road to Franklin Road, about a quarter-mile north of Clark School Road, he said.
That’s a change that Greenwood officials are concerned about. Drivers will have to make two 90-degree turns to go between Worthsville and Clark School roads, and that will make it impractical for semi-truck drivers to navigate, Mayor Mark Myers said.
Myers is glad that the project is moving forward, but would have preferred the connector road line up with Clark School Road, giving drivers easy access to I-74 and creating another selling point for business development on the east side of Greenwood.
That new section of Worthsville Road is expected to cost about $3.9 million, 80 percent of which will be covered through a federal grant. Construction on the project is expected to take place and be completed in 2019, he said. To construct the new road, the county needs to purchase about 21 acres of land, which is expected to cost about $500,000. The county made offers to property owners in the middle of 2016 and is working on finalizing those land purchases, Mastin said.
Johnson County Commissioner Ron West hopes that getting this initial project complete will help spur completion of the remainder of the route, which has been discussed for decades.
“It is one of many we need to get done,” Johnson County Commissioner Ron West said.
Multiple projects are needed, both by the county and Greenwood, before the east-west corridor is compete.
Once the new connector road is built, that will be followed with improvements to Clark School Road west to the Shelby County border, Mastin said.
Timelines for projects further west haven’t been established, and will largely rely on when the county is able to get additional grant funds, which they continue applying for, he said.
Later this year, Greenwood plans to rebuild the section of Worthsville Road from Graham Road to the eastern city limits, a project that will cost about $3.3 million.
Through 2021, the city 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.
The city is currently buying land to allow them to widen Worthsville Road between Averitt Road and U.S. 31. The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission recently approved spending about $230,000 on purchasing 10 properties, with additional purchases still being negotiated.
The goal is to get the property purchases complete by this fall, Greenwood City Engineer Daniel Johnston said.
Work on the section between U.S. 31 and Averitt Road is planned for 2020, he said.
Here’s a look at the upcoming improvements to Worthsville Road and Stones Crossing Road, which Greenwood and Johnson County envision 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
East city limits to South Franklin Road
Improvements: New road constructed to extend Worthsville Road to South Franklin Road
Estimated cost: $3.9 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
Franklin Road to east county limits
Improvements: Worthsville Road will be extended east, past Clark Pleasant Elementary. Once past the school, the road will be curved south to connect with Clark School Road.
Estimated cost: Not determined
Construction: Not determined