A major Greenwood road that leads to homes, businesses and schools will close for nine months this year while workers replace a bridge and add lanes.
Worthsville Road is planned to be closed March 1 between Sheek Road and U.S. 31 and likely won’t reopen until the end of November.
City officials say closing the road for that period of time will help speed up construction work to replace a bridge and widen the road. Workers won’t need to direct traffic around construction and instead can focus on the work.
About 17,000 vehicles pass through the intersection of U.S. 31 and Worthsville Road during the morning and evening rush hours each day, according to city traffic counts. Residents headed to subdivisions and parents and buses going to two Clark-Pleasant schools will detour north to Stop 18 Road and then take Sheek Road south. Workers headed to Endress+Hauser will go farther south to Pushville Road.
Once the work is done, Worthsville Road will be four lanes wide and can handle increased traffic, which city officials say is needed for when a new Interstate 65 interchange is built this year.
School officials have started planning for the closure.
Both Clark-Pleasant Middle School and Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School are near Worthsville and Sheek roads. The city is building an access road from Sheek Road to the middle school, but construction of that street hasn’t started, so it will not open before the Worthsville Road closure, said Mark Richards, Greenwood director of community development services.
Clark-Pleasant school employees began planning for the detour last year and have changed bus routes to avoid that area, transportation director Ed Tichenor said.
Buses will use Stop 18 Road or Tracy Road; and while that might add a few minutes to routes, officials can make a few changes to make up for it, such as picking up students a few minutes earlier, he said. That’s what transportation officials do every day, such as when they plan for snowy weather, he said.
“It’s just going to take a lot of patience on everyone’s part, but we’ll get through it,” Tichenor said.
One key issue is communication — between schools and officials planning projects and between schools and parents.
Clark-Pleasant staff members already have started meeting with Indiana Department of Transportation employees to prepare for construction of the new interchange, which will require periodic closures and detours, and will continue meeting with city officials about their plans for when roads will be closed, Tichenor said.
Work to widen and improve the road between U.S. 31 and I-65 is being done in two phases, and construction will cost about $9.4 million total, Richards said.
Starting around March 1, the road will be closed to keep traffic away from a bridge on Worthsville Road between the Louisville & Indiana Railroad tracks and U.S. 31. Workers will widen the bridge and upgrade the railroad crossing, Richards said.
The city expects to keep the road closed after the bridge is finished while workers widen a more than one-mile section of the road from two to four lanes between U.S. 31 and Sheek Road.
Keeping the road closed will be safer for construction workers and make the widening work faster because the contractor won’t have to close one lane at a time or use workers to direct traffic, Richards said.
The whole length of the road won’t be closed for nine months, but the spot at the bridge likely will be, he said.
The project is behind schedule, and when construction begins in the spring, it will be starting about a year late.
The work is part of the first phase of the Worthsville Road widening project, which will widen a 2-mile stretch of the road from two lanes to four lanes between U.S. 31 and I-65. The goal is to create a higher-speed boulevard to accommodate increased traffic expected from a new I-65 exit at Worthsville Road.
Greenwood is working to annex about 1,800 acres around the future I-65 interchange at Worthsville Road. The city is annexing the land so it can guide development of the area, which is primarily farmland. Officials want to ensure high-end offices, retailers and homes replace the farmland, rather than truck stops and fast-food restaurants.