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Area motorists brace for road construction

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Center Grove area residents: Next week your commute will get worse.

Motorists already have been detouring around an intersection on County Line Road for more than a month. And starting next week, work will begin on Smith Valley and Stones Crossing roads.

That will mean more motorists taking Peterman, Olive Branch and Fairview roads and bigger headaches for commuters.

The three projects will be happening at the same time, as part of a road construction season that also will include new turn lanes, a median and a stoplight at two intersections on State Road 135.

Residents and commuters will have to drive past road crews to get to work and should expect delays.

The intersection of County Line and Morgantown roads has been closed since May, and Smith Valley Road will be closed between Peterman Road and State Road 135 on Sunday. The Indiana Rail Road Co. is closing the road at the railroad crossing for five days so workers can replace the crossing. And on Stones Crossing Road, workers will begin work Monday on a crosswalk near Center Grove schools.

After those projects wrap up, the state highway department is scheduled in August to start building a stoplight and left-turn lanes on all four sides of the Smokey Row Road and State Road 135 intersection. A project to add turn lanes and a median along State Road 135 and Smith Valley Road is slated for this summer, before a Walmart store is built in the area.

Luckily, the work is happening over the summer, when school is out, local businesses said.

Closing Smith Valley Road won’t be as noticeable as it would have been during the school year, when Rainbow Child Care Center was adjusting to the closing of Morgantown and County Line roads and caring for more students, director Jenn Hilden said. That closing made bus routes longer for the day care, she said.

But families coming from west of the train tracks to drop off or pick up children at the day care likely will add 15 minutes to their drives once Smith Valley Road is closed, Hilden said.

She said she expects her 28-minute commute from Camby to increase, as well. She’ll have to take Fairview Road to State Road 135, and then cut back to the day care on Smith Valley Road, to get around the railroad crossing construction, she said. That will take an extra 15 minutes of driving, she said. Drivers also can use Olive Branch Road and Berry Road, according to the county highway department.

Work to add a crosswalk near Center Grove schools on Stones Crossing Road is also happening while students are out of school. Starting on Monday, work will begin on the crosswalk, which will be just east of Morgantown Road.

Traffic will be able to drive on Stones Crossing Road during the four weeks of work but will be directed around lanes that are under construction, and delays are possible, according to a news release from the county highway department.

The crosswalk is about a mile from the work on Smith Valley Road, with one main east-west route — Olive Branch Road — in between.

Kelley Yohler is an X-ray technologist for St. Francis Imaging Center, located near the intersection of Smith Valley Road and State Road 135. She said she expects traffic snarls will worsen when construction starts near the site of a planned Walmart store.

Walmart will pay for a turn lane and center medians to change traffic patterns at State Road 135 and Smith Valley Road.

The medians will eliminate left turns from the road into the imaging center’s parking lot, Yohler said.

Closing the railroad crossing on Smith Valley Road next week will be less of an issue because multiple crossroads make finding a quick alternate route easy, Yohler said.

The railroad crossing construction also shouldn’t impact business for K&R Medical, which directly neighbors the tracks, office manager Lindsey Anderson said. The road construction may make the company’s repairmen take longer to get to the medical offices where they fix blood pressure cuffs, scales and beds, but not by much, she said.

“I don’t think it’ll affect things too much,” Anderson said.

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