Greenwood plans to start work in the next few weeks on the $21.5 million Worthsville Road widening project that’s expected to make travel east or west across Johnson County much easier.
The project to expand Worthsville Road to four lanes between U.S. 31 and Interstate 65 is part of an east-west corridor that county officials have been talking about for decades. The widened road will lead to the fifth Johnson County interstate interchange, not including the two serving Edinburgh.
Greenwood would end up with a new southern gateway off I-65. Whiteland and New Whiteland residents would get easier highway access. Residents from across Johnson County eventually will have an easier way to go east or west, without having to take more congested routes such as Smith Valley Road.
In the next few weeks, drivers will start seeing orange traffic cones and hearing the rumble of heavy construction equipment on Worthsville Road. Construction will start by May 15 at the latest and continue into next year, when work will begin on the new
interchange on I-65, Greenwood community development services director Mark Richards said.
The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved hiring Indianapolis-based contractor E&B Paving to do the road construction for $9.3 million. The company’s bid came in about $2.6 million lower than expected, Richards said.
The redevelopment commission has borrowed $21.5 million at an interest rate of 2.7 percent to transform a narrow country road on the southern fringe of Greenwood into a four-lane boulevard with a tree-studded median, trails and a roundabout at Sheek Road. The city also will demolish an unused concrete plant and replace it with a trail head and rainwater-collection pond, as part of the project.
A widened Worthsville Road will lead to the new interchange, which is aimed at reducing the congestion at the Main Street exit. The thoroughfare will become part of a much larger east-west corridor that will stretch into Morgan and Shelby counties and connect I-65, State Road 37 and Interstate 74.
Greenwood will repay the loan over 15 years with money from its eastside tax-increment financing, or TIF, district, controller Adam Stone said. The redevelopment district collects property tax dollars from new development and increased property values in certain geographical areas and channels that money into road and other infrastructure projects in those areas.
The eastside TIF district has been generating about $6 million a year in income. Greenwood will spend about $1.1 million to $1.2 million a year paying off the 15-year loan, controller Adam Stone said.
Greenwood expects to still have enough money available for other projects, such as a $10 million aquatic center, which is expected to cost about $900,000 a year in debt payments.
An engineering firm had estimated the construction would cost $11.9 million, but most of the bids came in much lower. Construction companies have less work now that the state’s Major Moves funding has largely dried up, and contractors are more competitive on prices, Richards said.
Greenwood can either save that money or put it toward other expenses related to the Worthsville Road widening, Stone said. The goal will be to save it because Greenwood needs to keep the overall cost of the project — including land acquisition, design and professional fees — under $21.5 million.
Greenwood already has purchased most of the land necessary, including the vacant concrete plant just north of the Endress+Hauser corporate campus. Utility companies have been moving the utility poles and power lines.
Now that a contractor has been hired, actual road construction is only a few weeks away, Richards said.
The road will be closed at the Louisville and Indiana Railroad tracks, where the crossing will be expanded.
Between U.S. 31 and I-65, access will be limited to local property owners, or people driving to destinations such as Endress+Hauser. The city’s official detour is Stop 18 Road, between U.S. 31 and Sheek Road, Richards said.
A Whiteland resident who has to drop kids off at Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School or Clark-Pleasant Middle School at Sheek and Worthsville roads, for instance, could go north on U.S. 31, past Worthsville Road, turn right on Stop 18 and head south on Sheek Road.