Construction is not far off on Greenwood’s long-planned Worthsville Road expansion, and the city soon will shift its focus to the next phase of the major east-west route.
Design work will start this year on the western segment of the route, which will cut through Greenwood and eventually stretch across Johnson County and into Morgan and Shelby counties. Mayor Mark Myers said the next phase of the project will be a massive undertaking and will cost millions, but he said Greenwood has to figure out how to pay for it to keep the momentum going.
Greenwood hopes to next widen Worthsville Road farther west and connect it to Stones Crossing Road to allow the route to handle east-west traffic between U.S. 31 and State Road 135, Myers said. Part of the expanded road would be four lanes, while at least one segment likely would be a two-lane road with wider shoulders and turn lanes that encourage traffic to keep flowing with few stops.
A rough estimate is that construction will cost $16.5 million, but that doesn’t include the cost of designing the project or buying the land, community development services director Mark Richards said.
The city plans to soon hire an engineering firm to design that road and determine how wide it would be, how much land would have to be purchased and what it would cost.
The only funding that’s currently been lined up is for a roundabout that would align Stones Crossing Road where it intersects with Honey Creek Road, Richards said. The city council has set aside $300,000 for designing that intersection and another roundabout on Main Street, but the city will seek federal funds to pay for the actual work.
Construction of the next phase of the Worthsville Road project is expected to be three to five years away.
Myers said Greenwood had to start planning for the next sections of the project as soon as possible because of the upcoming construction of the Worthsville Road interchange at Interstate 65 and other parts of the east-west route.
The city must build on the progress that’s being made in Greenwood and Johnson County, he said.
In the past few years, segments of the route have been falling into place, Johnson County Highway Department Director Luke Mastin said.
The county recently opened a roundabout on Whiteland Road and plans a new length of road that would connect Worthsville Road to East County Road 700N. No cost estimate was available for the project, but the county recently hired engineering firm United Consulting to prepare the designs.
Shelby County is widening West County Road 400N, which becomes Clark School Road in Johnson County and which eventually will connect to Worthsville Road.
A long-awaited east-west route would link Johnson, Morgan and Shelby counties. Drivers could get to Interstate 74, I-65 and State Road 37, which is slated to become Interstate 69.
Shelby County Development Corp. director Dan Theobald said the project would make transportation easier between neighboring counties, open up more land for new development and help attract businesses that would have more ways to ship their goods across the country.
Officials have discussed an east-west corridor for decades but only recently settled on a route that involves upgrading existing roads, including Worthsville Road in Greenwood.
But a major question will be how the city can pay to continue to expand Worthsville Road west, toward the Center Grove area, Myers said.
Greenwood had requested a $75 million federal grant to expand Worthsville Road from a two-lane rural road into a major thoroughfare between State Road 135 and County Road 300E just east of I-65, but the city didn’t get the money.
The city now is taking out a $20 million loan to widen Worthsville Road to four lanes with trails and a median between I-65 and U.S. 31. The city will repay the loan with tax money from a tax-increment financing district that collects most of the property tax dollars from new development in a particular area and channels it back into road and other infrastructure improvements.
Officials said Greenwood will pursue state and federal funding and review other options for paying for the next phase of the work, which goes west to State Road 135.
What’s proposed for the next phase is that Worthsville Road would be widened from U.S. 31 west to County Road 125W, where it currently ends at a T-intersection. Greenwood also would build an S-curve at that intersection and where County Road 125W intersects with Stones Crossing Road, in order to connect Worthsville and Stones Crossing roads, Richards said.
Keep traffic moving
Greenwood also plans to widen Stones Crossing Road between the proposed S-curves and State Road 135.
Drivers then could then follow Worthsville Road onto Stones Crossing Road, or vice versa, without having to stop at a stop sign at County Road 125W and turn once cross-traffic passed. They’d be able to stay on the same road the whole time, Richards said.
If headed west outside city limits, motorists would turn south when they got to State Road 135. They’d go south for about two miles, turn west on Whiteland Road and follow it for 2.5 miles until they got to County Road 144. They’d then head northwest on County Road 144, either taking it into Morgan County or onto State Road 37.
Johnson County already built a new roundabout at County Road 144 and Whiteland Road to move traffic along the east-west route. The county also plans to widen Whiteland Road from State Road 135 to County Road 144 and to build a roundabout at Whiteland and Morgantown roads.
The next section of the project in Greenwood stretches for about three miles, Richards said. The city is looking at breaking it up into five segments, which would be done over a few years to make it more affordable, he said.
The city also doesn’t want to do too much of the road work at once to minimize the inconvenience to drivers, Myers said.
At this point, city officials don’t know what order the work would be done in, but the realignment of County Road 125W with new S-curves likely would come first, Richards said.