A rural county road wasn’t built to handle the hundreds of motorists who use it daily to travel through Franklin and to Franklin Community High School.
That’s why the county plans to widen lanes and add shoulders on County Road 200N, which passes by the high school.
Since the high school opened in 2007, County Road 200N has had about an 8 percent increase in traffic volume yearly, resulting in a few hundred more cars daily, county highway department director Luke Mastin said.
The county expected traffic volume to increase with the opening of the school and started planning the project when the school’s location was announced, Mastin said.
Johnson County already has widened a mile of the road between Cumberland Drive and Centerline Road and wants to start construction on another 1.3-mile section in 2014, Mastin said.
He said the upcoming work is the second phase in a project meant to improve the road as more and more motorists use it to get to the high school and the north side of the city.
Mastin said he expects the traffic to continue to increase as the population grows on the north side of Franklin, and the wider lanes will help the road handle the vehicles.
The first phase of the widening project was completed in 2009, but the county recently got the federal funding needed to start the second phase, which will widen the road between Centerline Road and State Road 144, Mastin said.
The county received about $2.8 million in federal funding and will pay about $700,000, he said.
Besides widening the lanes, the project will include reducing some hills and realigning an intersection so motorists will be able to better see oncoming cars, as well as renovating a bridge in an area where flooding has closed the road, Mastin said.
In the first phase of the project, the county widened the lanes from 8.5 feet to 12 feet and added 8-foot shoulders, Mastin said. Lanes in the second section of the project are about 9 feet wide currently, but Mastin said he is not sure yet how wide they will be after construction.
Mastin said 8- and 9-foot-wide lanes are normal for a rural road, but with more traffic the lanes need to be wider.
“Safety is certainly an issue when you see an increase in traffic on what has always been a rural, narrow road,” he said. “Obviously we have to look at doing road improvements there to handle that traffic.”
The county also plans to make the intersections of County Road 200N and County Road 125W at State Road 144 safer by making the two county roads line up with each other and intersect at closer to a 90-degree angle, Mastin said.
Currently, he said, the two intersections are less than 100 feet apart, and motorists sometimes can’t see vehicles coming from the opposite intersection.
Hills on County Road 200N also cause prevent motorists from seeing oncoming vehicles, which is why the county plans to reduce some of the hills when widening the road, Mastin said.
The final improvement to the road will be made at the bridge east of County Road 75W, where the county will lengthen the structure to prevent flooding, he said.
Right now, heavy rain causes the road to be closed near the bridge until the water is clear, Mastin said.
“When water’s over the road and the road is closed, it limits the options in terms of how to get to the high school from the west,” he said.