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Safety update: State earmarks $424,000 for intersection


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The Indiana Department of Transportation will make improvements to the intersection of State Road 135 and Main Street in Greenwood during the next three years at a cost of about $424,000.
PHOTO BY SCOTT ROBERSON
The Indiana Department of Transportation will make improvements to the intersection of State Road 135 and Main Street in Greenwood during the next three years at a cost of about $424,000. PHOTO BY SCOTT ROBERSON

The Indiana Department of Transportation will make improvements to the intersection of State Road 135 and Main Street in Greenwood during the next three years at a cost of about $424,000.
PHOTO BY SCOTT ROBERSON
The Indiana Department of Transportation will make improvements to the intersection of State Road 135 and Main Street in Greenwood during the next three years at a cost of about $424,000. PHOTO BY SCOTT ROBERSON


A car slams into another vehicle after failing to beat the red light at Main Street and State Road 135 in Greenwood and barreling forward anyway.

Another driver pulls out of the Meijer supermarket lot onto the highway without seeing a speeding car, or leaving enough time to break before they collide.

Such crashes have happened time and again at an intersection that IUPUI studies have ranked one of the worst for traffic-signal running in Johnson County for years. But the Indiana Department of Transportation plans to make safety improvements at Main Street and State Road 135 in the Center Grove area.

The state plans to spend about $424,000 in federal highway safety money on upgrades to that intersection sometime in the next three years, spokesman Will Wingfield said. The goal is to improve safety, he said.

About the project

The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to improve safety at a Greenwood intersection where drivers often run red lights.

What: $424,000 project, but details have yet to be determined

When: The work is supposed to get done in 2015 or earlier

Where: State Road 135 and Main Street in Greenwood

Status: An engineering firm is studying options for how to make it safer, and INDOT will get public input after deciding on a specific plan

But state officials don’t yet know what the improvements would be, such as whether more turn lanes would be added or if the crossroads would be completely redesigned, Wingfield said.

Engineering firm Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates Inc. is doing a study to determine how to make the intersection safer. They’ll look at alternatives and should have a recommendation by the end of the year, he said.

“Each project is designed and tailored to the specific traffic conditions at and near the intersection,” Wingfield said.

The state also has been trying to make other State Road 135 intersections safer in the Center Grove area. Workers recently placed a new stoplight at Demaree Road, and INDOT plans to add stoplights and turn lanes at the Smokey Row Road intersection in a few years.

Greenwood has tried before to make the intersection at Main Street safer, such as by requiring new businesses to eliminate entrances onto State Road 135 so fewer cars are pulling out into incoming traffic.

But the city did not ask the state to make safety upgrades to the intersection, which are being done as part of a routine evaluation, community development services director Mark Richards said. The city, however, has had concerns about congestion, safety and accidents at the intersection, he said.

A few years ago, Greenwood encouraged the state to add a crosswalk at Main Street and State Road 135 but was told at the time it wouldn’t be feasible, Richards said. The city plans to ask again when the intersection improvements are planned.

Studies over the past few years have shown that the intersection is dangerous, especially because hurried drivers tend to disregard red lights. An annual study by the Center for Criminal Justice Research at IUPUI found that State Road 135 and Main Street was tied for Johnson County’s second worst intersection for traffic-signal running, as measured by the number of crashes.

Last year, County Line Road and Madison Avenue in Greenwood had the most accidents caused by drivers running traffic lights.

Three accidents were caused at Main Street and State Road 135 last year by drivers ignoring red lights. Six crashes happened at the intersection in 2010, when it ranked as the county’s worst for blown red lights.

In half of those accidents in 2010 drivers or passengers were hurt, according to the study. The accidents at that intersection tend to be more serious because drivers are going so fast on State Road 135, Greenwood Police Department assistant chief Matt Fillenwarth said.

Most of the intersections on State Road 135 tend to be dangerous and have a lot of crashes, largely because of the speed and the volume of traffic, Fillenwarth said.

“You’ve got a five-lane highway that isn’t split,” he said. “You’re going to have more accidents when you have heavy traffic and people going 40 to 50 miles an hour and just running the lights.”

Drivers often get into serious T-bone crashes or are rear-ended because they fail to pay attention to the lights, Fillenwarth said.

“People disregard the traffic control devices, and that’s what makes it unsafe,” he said. “The accidents happen more often and they tend to be a lot nastier.”

INDOT tentatively expects to make fixes in 2015, Wingfield said. The state will talk to neighboring property owners and could have a public meeting once officials figure out exactly what the plan is later this year.

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