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Family fears traffic spike on narrow roadway

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A planned road project east of Greenwood has a family concerned about what will happen when more traffic uses the road in front of their home.

Worthsville Road, east of Greenwood, is set to be widened to four lanes, but Jennifer Taylor worries that project isn’t planned until years after semitrailer trucks and other traffic can exit nearby at a new Interstate 65 interchange.

That could mean large trucks barreling past her family’s home and having to maneuver abruptly past school buses loading and unloading students, including her four children.

Worthsville Road is about 70 feet from the family’s home, close enough for the idea of increased traffic on the narrow road to worry Taylor. Greenwood will buy the Taylors’ home before widening Worthsville Road, but that could be years after the new I-65 interchange opens and traffic increases, she said.

“We just don’t think they’re doing it the right way. We know progress has to be made and roads have to be built,” Taylor said. “But doing it the right way should be at the front of their minds.”

The family’s home sits near where Worthsville Road becomes Griffith Road, which is where the county plans to build a new connector road as part of a plan to create a more direct route east to west across the county. That new road will connect Worthsville Road to Clark School Road and will be part of an east-west corridor across the county between the planned route of Interstate 69 and Interstate 74 in Shelby County.

Construction on the connector road is slated to start and finish in 2015 — the same as when the state plans to build the new I-65 interchange on Worthsville Road. The connector road will give I-65 traffic a direct route past Marc and Jennifer Taylor’s home.

Greenwood isn’t planning to start construction on a project to widen Worthsville Road between Griffith Road and I-65 for several years. First, the city likely will build a roundabout and S-curve west of there within the next three to four years, officials have said. When those projects start depends on when the city gets funding for them and when the city finalizes an 1,800-acre annexation that will bring the Taylor family’s property within city limits.

Until Greenwood widens Worthsville Road, the increased traffic getting off the highway and heading west to Shelby County will go past the Taylor home on a two-lane county road, Taylor said.

The Taylors want the Worthsville Road widening and construction of the connector road to happen at the same time, so the family can move before the road becomes a corridor between highways, she said.

“This road would be the east-west corridor, and it’s not built to handle that much traffic,” Jennifer Taylor said.

“I have four kids. I just worry about them getting on a bus that’s on a road that busy. If a semi happens to go off the road, it can plow right into my house, it’s so close to the road.”

By building the new connector, the county is turning Worthsville Road into the east-west corridor without first upgrading the county road so it can handle the increased traffic, she said.

Worthsville currently gets bus and farm traffic, but once the exit and connector roads open, she expects highway traffic to travel that stretch between I-65 and I-74, she said.

The county expects increased traffic on the road but also is trying to make room for the traffic that uses the county road now, county highway department director Luke Mastin said. The county plans to build the connector road next year and open it about the same time as the I-65 exit, he said.

“We do anticipate an increase in traffic volume,” Mastin said. “But that’s one of the goals of the east-west transportation project that we’ve been discussing for decades.”

That new highway-to-highway traffic will be a danger when school buses drop off children at homes along Worthsville Road, to the farmers moving tractors and other equipment and to her family, Taylor said. Her home sits about 70 feet off Worthsville Road, and two of her children have bedrooms at the front of the house near the street.

The connector road will have 4-foot-wide shoulders to accommodate tractors and combines from farms, Mastin said.

The county will consider the family’s concerns. Greenwood is handling the part of the Worthsville Road project in front of the Taylors’ home, he said.

Greenwood has started work to widen Worthsville Road between I-65 and U.S. 31 but doesn’t have the funding yet to upgrade the whole road within the city limits, officials have said.

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