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Roundabouts in the works

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Drivers should be able to take a spin through the first few roundabouts in Greenwood sometime in the next few years.

The city is planning roundabouts at Main Street and Averitt Road and at Honey Creek and Stones Crossing roads in the hope of reducing congestion and accidents. The Greenwood City Council decided two years ago to set aside $300,000 for preliminary work on the roundabouts and has hired a consultant to design the projects.

A third roundabout is planned in Greenwood at Worthsville and Sheek roads, as part of a $20 million road widening project.

Greenwood already has small roundabouts at Greenwood Park Mall and in a subdivision but none on city streets. Johnson County built roundabouts at Morgantown and Fairview roads and at County Road 144 and Whiteland Road and plans to build one at Morgantown and Whiteland roads as part of an east-west corridor. Franklin also is discussing building its first roundabout.

Roundabouts would reduce the number of accidents and could make the ones that do happen less serious, Greenwood City Council member Ezra Hill said. The circular interchanges that the city plans to build over the next few years also are supposed to relieve congestion, improve the flow of traffic and, in the case of Worthsville and Sheek roads, give visitors coming off a new interstate exit a positive impression of Greenwood as a forward-thinking community.

In total, the roundabouts being studied at Main Street and Averitt Road and Honey Creek and Stones Crossing roads would cost about $2 million. Greenwood is trying to secure up to $1.5 million in federal dollars to pay for most of the construction costs, community development services director Mark Richards said.

The city hopes to turn both intersections into roundabouts within the next few years, but the exact timetable will depend on when the city can get the funding, he said.

Residents have expressed concerns about other roundabouts constructed in recent years, such as that traffic backs up at Morgantown at Fairview roads when school lets out or at other busy times, but the circular intersections often allow traffic to go more quickly and flow more smoothly than it otherwise would, Greenwood City Council member Ron Bates said.

The roundabout at Main Street and Averitt Road is planned to relieve rush-hour congestion, while the one at Stones Crossing and Honey Creek roads is aimed at lining up offset streets and making east-west travel easier.

The proposed roundabout at Honey Creek and Stones Crossing roads is part of the future east-west thoroughfare that will stretch across the city and eventually into Morgan and Shelby counties, Richards said.

But Greenwood is pursuing it as a separate project, because the goal is to align where the roads meet into a proper four-way intersection.

Currently, drivers taking Stones Crossing Road have to turn onto Honey Creek Road and travel a few hundred feet before turning back onto Stones Crossing Road to keep going east or west.

A roundabout would connect the roads so that drivers could continue seamlessly on their way whether traveling east or west, Richards said.

The city also wants to build a roundabout at Main Street and Averitt Road, a three-way intersection that gets often backed up during rush hour when drivers try to turn south on Averitt or west on Main Street. Commuters who are headed home in the evening to the subdivisions along Averitt Road have to wait for cross-traffic on Main Street to let up and block drivers behind them who are headed farther west.

Greenwood had been looking for a fix for the congestion at that intersection for years but was limited in what it could do because of a nearby cemetery and settled on a roundabout as the solution.

Richards said he did not know how soon construction could start.

The city has been paying for preliminary work, which has cost about 3 percent more than expected because of additional research that will be needed into the potential historical significance of a home near the intersection and also because land will cost more than first thought, Richards said.

Beech Grove-based CrossRoad Engineers, hired to design those projects, also has to do more topographical design than originally expected to plan the drainage around the intersections.

This week the city council unanimously approved spending an additional $10,375 on consulting costs.

Greenwood will need federal funding to pay for the construction costs, Richards said.

The city requested a federal grant that goes to improving air quality to pay for the roundabout at Main Street and Averitt Road, but the project was not approved for the latest round of funding, Richards said.

Three other roundabout projects in central Indiana received that money, and Greenwood is optimistic that it will receive funding sometime in the next few years, he said.

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