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Repairs begin on thoroughfares after winter weather’s assault

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Lanes will be blocked off, sidewalks will be closed, and streets will be temporarily shut down while holes are fixed and new asphalt is laid down on local roads.

Throughout the county you can expect to see road workers continue to make one last patching run on potholes caused by the particularly harsh winter. A few larger projects that were left over from last year or planned for spring also will begin soon.

The state will continue work on Interstate 465 and building new flyover ramps at Interstate 65, so temporary lanes, concrete barriers and workers will remain throughout the year if you’re headed downtown.

Two new, major projects will start this spring. Work to add a new right-turn lane and concrete medians at the highly traveled Smith Valley Road and State Road 135 intersection should begin by May 1.

Those improvements are being made in anticipation of a new Walmart that is planned near the intersection. Within the next week or two, Franklin will begin the second phase of work on North Main Street to reconstruct the road and add new sidewalks and decorative lighting, meaning sections of the road will be closed through November. And workers already have closed Worthsville Road in Greenwood, where the road is being widened.

Local street departments are preparing lists of roads that will get new asphalt or significant patching. Franklin plans to look for a contractor earlier than usual this year to get better prices and ensure the work gets done before winter. Johnson County and Greenwood already have rated streets and roads to form an initial list of areas that will get new pavement this summer.

All three are continuing to watch for additional damage. Roads are still thawing from the long, cold winter, which can cause new cracks and potholes that weren’t there just a week before.

“It’s going to be difficult to really nail down the final list until after the spring thaw. Typically we try to get our program together as early as possible. It’s going to be one of the unusual years where those ratings can be impacted on a week-to-week basis,” Johnson County Highway Department director Luke Mastin said.

On I-65, construction workers will start building extra lanes behind concrete barriers. The Indiana Department of Transportation will keep three lanes open during peak hours, so commuters shouldn’t notice a change in their daily drive.

Locally drivers will need to make adjustments because road repairs will shut down or restrict some highly traveled roads.

At Smith Valley Road and State Road 135 in Greenwood, lane restrictions during construction likely will cause big traffic backups when that project starts around May 1. The project will add a right-turn lane on eastbound Smith Valley Road and concrete medians on the western portion of Smith Valley and southern portion of the state highway, Greenwood director of community development services Mark Richards said. The medians will prevent people from making left turns onto Smith Valley Road or across State Road 135, which will reduce potential accidents, Richards said.

In Franklin, workers soon will start tearing up the first section of North Main Street between Graham Street and Oliver Avenue, meaning drivers won’t be able to use the street to get downtown. Four sections of the road will be closed for two to three months at a time, lasting through November, Franklin city engineer Travis Underhill said.

Franklin also will complete two smaller projects — alley reconstruction near the Artcraft Thetare and paving and sealing work. Those projects were not done last year. The city wanted to get both completed before winter, but they were planned late in the year, and contractors were delayed with other projects, Underhill said. He didn’t want either project to start and the weather turn cold, which would mean new asphalt and concrete wouldn’t set properly.

The weather is still going between warm spring days and cold snaps, and some projects may not start for a month, he said. For example, the alleys being rebuilt don’t get as much sunlight as streets, so those areas will take longer to thaw. The sealing work, which fills tiny cracks in the pavement with an oil-based mixture, also won’t bond as well if the roadways are cold, he said.

“We’re in a situation where we want to wait for ground temperatures to get up there a little bit and have the pavement be ready for it. Even as the days warm up, the pavement will still stay cold for a while,” Underhill said.

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