Don’t expect Johnson County’s long-awaited east-west corridor to provide a smooth, continuous ride on a highway-like road.
In fact, you might need to look at a map if you’re not familiar with the route.
Drivers will have to navigate three different east-west roads as they head across Johnson County, once segments of the long-planned project are complete. They’ll have to head south for a few miles at one point and then go north again.
No signs will tell motorists that they’re on an east-west corridor, but the route eventually will link three interstates and span more than 20 miles over three counties. But the route won’t be a straight shot like the Ronald Reagan Parkway that stretches across Hendricks County.
Drivers will be able to go along a boulevard-like, mostly four-lane road between an Interstate 74 exit near Shelbyville and the western end of Worthsville Road in Greenwood. But then the path will become more complicated, with four turns onto four different roads until drivers cross into Morgan County or get on State Road 37, which eventually will become Interstate 69.
The route that’s under construction in Johnson County is less a corridor than a series of road improvements that will make east-west travel easier, Johnson County Highway Department Director Luke Mastin said.
“Historically, the idea had been a corridor, but it’s not necessarily a corridor,” he said. “It’s more improvements that are needed to our east-west roads.”
At one time years ago, the opportunity existed to have a true east-west route by upgrading Main Street, Smith Valley Road or some other road into a thoroughfare, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said. But development now lines all those roads, and land values have risen too much to make such an option cost-effective, he said.
County officials settled on a route farther south, where growth is expected. The route mostly follows Worthsville Road, and new segments of road will be built to extend the road by hooking it into Stones Crossing Road and East County Road 700N, which also is known as Clark School Road.
Drivers would be able to take the route from one side of the county to the other and could keep going into Morgan and Shelby counties. The various projects will add up to a route that drivers could follow from State Road 37 to the Shelby County line, Mastin said.
But the path isn’t a direct route. Drivers take a detour in White River Township, to bypass Center Grove Community High School and get to a future Interstate 69 interchange.
Drivers coming from the east would follow Clark School Road. The county plans to build about a mile-long length of road that will link the road to Worthsville Road.
Motorists would follow that new length of roadway onto a widened Worthsville Road and take that through Greenwood to County Road 125W. That’s where the city plans to remove a Greenwood Christian Academy ball field to make way for an S-curve, Myers said.
After taking the S-curve, drivers would head south for about a half-mile and then take another S-curve west onto Stones Crossing Road. Drivers then would follow Stones Crossing Road west through a new roundabout and on to State Road 135. Drivers then would turn south and head that way for about two miles.
No sign is planned to tell them that the east-west route picks up again at Whiteland Road, Mastin said.
Once they hit Whiteland Road, they’d turn west, go west for about 2.5 miles and turn north at a roundabout onto County Road 144, which they could follow into Morgan County or onto State Road 37.
The trip between Interstate 74 in Shelby County and the western edge of Greenwood city limits would be a relatively straight shot of uninterrupted road, Myers said. The path farther west would be more straightforward if it continued along Stones Crossing Road in White River Township, but that would put a lot of traffic past Center Grove High School.
Another issue arises when State Road 37 becomes I-69. An interchange is planned at County Road 144 but not Stones Crossing Road, Myers said.
The east-west route might get a little jagged the farther west you go, but it still would have most of the benefits of a more direct corridor, Myers said.
Commuters would know how to go east and west, and so would the truckers, who could ship goods for local or new businesses that could take advantage of the improved highway access, he said.
“It’ll still move traffic,” he said.