A strip of trees and grass will greet residents and visitors coming off Interstate 65 when a new entrance into Greenwood is finished.
The now two-lane Worthsville Road is being redesigned into a four-lane entryway, with a landscaped median separating the traffic buzzing east and west, in and out of the city from U.S. 31 to I-65. The plan is new to Greenwood but not to other areas of the state and nation. In Hamilton County, boulevard-style roads are common on four-lane streets.
Adding trees, grass and shrubs between traffic lanes gives the road a boulevard look and helps prevents crashes when vehicles cross the center line into oncoming traffic. The median will minimize the number of places where vehicles can turn left and usually helps with drainage by allowing less water to pool on the pavement than if the roadway were all asphalt.
Medians are less expensive when the project doesn’t require buying more land. Space was not a concern on the project for the $20 million Worthsville Road project. If a landscaped median weren’t installed, the city would have built a middle turn lane, Greenwood community services director Mark Richards said.
The new Worthsville Road landscaped median is one of the first in Johnson County. The county put grass and trees along a 2-mile long median on Whiteland Road in the Center Grove area, and Franklin city officials may consider the idea when road crews reconstruct portions of State Road 44 in the future.
The reasons for each differ.
For Greenwood, one of the primary reasons for building a landscaped median is to give the area a boulevard look as a new entrance into the city. Five lanes of pavement greet drivers exiting I-65 at County Line Road or Main Street.
“Some people felt those projects ended up looking like a landing strip,” Richards said.
Greenwood does not have specific plans to build other landscaped medians. The cost of installing a landscaped median on either of the other interstate exits into the city would be too expensive, since the roads would have to be torn up, Richards said.
The city also had safety concerns in mind with the landscaped median. Officials intentionally limited the number of places where people can turn to minimize the number of dangerous areas. The city considered the proximity to intersections and other turning points when planning a cut in the median, Richards said.
The county also used its median along Whiteland Road as a chance to prevent the number of accidents on the road. A nearly 2-mile-long grassy median was created on the reconstructed road, which stretches from just past State Road 135 to County Road 144.
“We have better control over crossover movements, whether it’s traffic making left turns or drivers crossing over from
one side to the other,” county highway director Luke Mastin said. “We can control where those movements are made, which helps reduce the potential for serious crashes.”
The project was finished just last year, so it’s too early to tell if it had an impact. No matter the result, the county has no plans to build additional landscaped medians in current projects, Mastin said.
Franklin does not have any roads with a landscaped median, but it might consider one in the future, Mayor Joe McGuinness said.
The city will be responsible for any improvements and snow removal of a roughly 1-mile portion of State Road 44 west of I-65 beginning April 14.
Repairing the road was not a priority for the state, and now the city can fix potholes and rough pavement, meaning that work can be done sooner than when the state had planned. The design process for improvements to the road have not begun, but the project could include a landscaped median with trees, shrubs or grass, McGuinness said.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all because it adds a lot of aesthetics for people coming into downtown,” McGuinness said.