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Greenwood soon will tell pedestrians: It’s OK to walk


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You have to dodge or hustle past speeding traffic if you try to travel across Greenwood on foot or bike, but city officials hope crosswalks will make it safer.

Greenwood just installed a new crosswalk on Madison Avenue in the Old Town area and plans to add talking signals this month at U.S. 31 and Smith Valley Road and at Smith Valley Road and Madison Avenue. They will be the first audible crosswalks in the city, or in Johnson County, for that matter.

A robotic voice will tell you that you’re coming up on U.S. 31 and need to wait for the walk signal, or that you can now cross U.S. 31. Another talking crossing will guide pedestrians across the intersection of Smith Valley Road and Madison Avenue on foot.

The city plans to ask the Indiana Department of Transportation to install crosswalks at other busy intersections on two state-maintained highways. The goal with all the projects is to make it safer for people to walk, bike or run across Greenwood, community development services director Mark Richards said.

Street department workers just built a crosswalk at Madison and Euclid avenues in the Old Town area. The goal is to let people to walk from the Village Shoppes complex that includes La Trattoria Italian restaurant and Vino Villa wine and cheese shop and other stores across the street.

Those merchants have been working together to create a consistent look and ambiance, and Greenwood wants to encourage more people to stroll between those shops, city council member Brent Corey said.

By the end of the month, Greenwood expects to add talking crosswalks at U.S. 31 and Smith Valley Road as part of a trail project. The city is spending $538,000 to complete West Smith Valley Trail, a pathway that will link the north-south Tracy Trail with the east-west Polk Hill Trail along Smith Valley Road.

Eventually pedestrians should be able to walk, bike or push strollers on a pedestrian bridge that will span U.S. 31. But Greenwood hasn’t been able to get federal funding for the bridge yet and is looking at upgrading two intersections in the meantime.

Currently, few people realize there’s a crosswalk at U.S. 31 and Smith Valley Road, and many others don’t feel safe using it, parks and recreation department executive director Evan Springer said. The walk signal barely gives them enough time to cross the six lanes of traffic.

Greenwood will make the crosswalk more visible by painting bright white diagonal lines, Springer said. The walk light also will last for 37 seconds instead of 30 seconds.

Residents also will be able to hear when it’s safe to cross. The city got a request from residents to add a talking signal and will do so at an additional cost of about $13,700, Richards said.

City officials decided they wanted an extra level of safety because of how much traffic passes through the intersection and how fast it goes, Springer said.

“We want to do everything possible to make it as safe as possible,” he said.

The talking signals will make it safer by letting residents know in another way when they can cross and making the intersections more accessible to the visually impaired, Springer said.

They also will encourage more people to use the sidewalks and trails by improving the perception of safety at that intersection, he said.

Greenwood also wants to improve safety at other intersections that people often try to cross by foot but that don’t have any lighted signals for pedestrians.

The city would like to install crosswalk signals at Fry Road and U.S. 31, U.S. 31 and Main Street, and Main Street and State Road 135, Richards said.

But in each case, the decision is up to INDOT because the crosswalks would cross state-maintained highways, Richards said. Greenwood plans to ask the state to consider including pedestrian signals as part of upcoming State Road 135 and Main Street project.

The state plans to spend $424,000 on improvements to that intersection, and Richards said Greenwood will ask that crosswalk signals are included as part of the construction work.

Greenwood also wants to request that the state consider putting crosswalks in at the two U.S. 31 intersections because people often try to get across them on foot, Richards said.

The city is particularly interested in pedestrian signals at Fry Road because people often walk to and from the mall and a nearby apartment complex.

The state might be less inclined to approve that proposal because there are no sidewalks on the west side of Fry Road, but Greenwood plans to eventually build a trail, Richards said.

CROSSWALKS RECENT, PLANNED, POSSIBLE

Madison and Euclid avenues

What: Painted crosswalks with yield signs to allow people to walk to and from shops in the Old Town area

Status: Recently installed

U.S. 31 and Smith Valley Road

What: Talking crosswalk signals that will tell residents when it’s safe to cross

Status: Expected to be installed by the end of the month

Smith Valley Road and Madison Avenue

What: Talking crosswalk signals that will tell residents when it’s safe to cross

Status: Expected to be installed by the end of the month

Fry Road and U.S. 31

What: Crosswalks signals where none exist

Status: Greenwood plans to ask the Indiana Department of Transportation to consider installing crosswalks so that people can safely cross.

Main Street and U.S. 31

What: Crosswalks signals where none exist

Status: Will be requested from INDOT

Main Street and State Road 135

What: Crosswalks signals where currently exist

Status: Will be requested from INDOT, which is planning intersection improvements within the next three years

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