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Intersection upgrade set for summer

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Whiteland is buying land around a busy four-way stop as the town’s first roundabout is set for a busy commuter intersection.

Drivers will have to continue to creep through the plugged-up intersection of Whiteland and Graham roads in the meantime, but construction is on pace for next summer.

Final construction plans are being reviewed by the Indiana Department of Transportation and the town can start buying about an acre of land around the intersection, CrossRoad Engineers vice president Trent Newport said.

The intersection will be a little wider than it is now so that trucks have enough room to make it through the roundabout.

The town will need to buy some of the yards of two houses on the northwest corner, but the project shouldn’t bring traffic too close to the homes, Newport said. The town won’t have to buy either of the houses, he said.

Whiteland has been delayed up to this point while waiting for the state to approve plans and allow the town to move forward with the preparatory work, such as buying land, town manager Dennis Capozzi said. But the town should still be able to start the $1.36 million project in summer 2015 as originally intended, Newport said.

The town received federal grants that will pay for most of the engineering and construction costs. The state may also choose to pay for all of the construction costs if it has additional money for road projects, Newport said.

That recently happened when the state fully funded a roundabout project at Main Street and Averitt Road in Greenwood.

Whiteland has been setting aside money for the project and will take out a short-term loan if needed, Capozzi said.

Residents and commuters will have an opportunity to learn more about the roundabout this fall during an informational meeting, which hasn’t been set yet, Newport said.

Engineers will have design plans for people to review and answer any questions about the roundabout.

The new Whiteland intersection will be similar to other roundabouts in the county, Newport said.

Town officials haven’t decided what type of landscaping will be put in the center of the roundabout when it’s built, but the height of the center island and angles of the road as you approach won’t be as notable as the new roundabout in Franklin, Newport said.

Franklin residents and officials questioned the height of the roundabout, which was designed a little taller than others in order to slow down drivers in the residential neighborhood.

Since the intersection is in a flat, rural area, construction workers will have enough room to create gentle slopes into the intersection and drivers won’t need to be on the lookout for pedestrians.

That will make the roundabout look similar to roundabouts on Whiteland Road on the west side of the county, Newport said.

Since drivers don’t have to come to a complete stop at a roundabout like they do at a four-way stop, the congestion at Whiteland and Graham roads should quickly dissipate once the roundabout is open next year.

Commuters heading to and from the nearby Interstate 65 exit often face delays at the intersection.

“It’s an intersection that gets backed up pretty substantially during the rush hours much like Fairview and Morgantown did. Just like that one you’re going to immediately see an improvement in traffic flow,” Newport said.

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