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Season of snarls: Roadwork set to begin

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More than two months of road construction will start in about a week at one of the Center Grove area’s busiest intersections.

Shortly after the start of school, traffic headaches are coming for drivers who go through the intersection of Smith Valley Road and State Road 135 on their way to work, school or home.

The work scheduled to start Aug. 4 will prepare for when Walmart opens a supercenter next summer. The retailer plans to build a 163,273-square-foot store, with a pharmacy, two pharmacy drive-through windows, a garden center, a vision center and a bakery.

The road project will add a turn lane and median at the intersection, which is one of the busiest in Greenwood. More than 18,000 vehicles pass through each day. Over the past two years, it also had the most car accidents in the city with 51 in 2013 and 61 in 2012.

Construction is expected to take 75 days to complete.

To help with the expected backups, the city is restricting road work to weekdays between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Traffic is heaviest on Saturdays and Sundays, even compared to morning and evening rush hours, Greenwood community development services director Mark Richards said.

Walmart is paying $305,000 for the road upgrades, which are meant to keep traffic flowing through the already-busy intersection. The median, which will be west of State Road 135, will stop left turns into nearby stores and home driveways. A right-turn lane at the intersection will keep traffic moving when vehicles clog the intersection going straight or trying to turn left.

Lane closings are part of the project, but the intersection will remain open during the work, Richards said. Which lane is closed will change from day to day, and construction signs and workers with flags will direct motorists through the intersection until work is finished, he said.

Lane closures mean more congestion, which drivers won’t be able to avoid to get to stores, restaurants and other businesses near the intersection.

That could hurt business for Meridian Title, 1675 W. Smith Valley Road, because real estate agents want to take customers to title companies that are easy to access, sales manager Cheryl Miller said.

Smith Valley Road is the only way to get to Meridian Title, which is southeast of the intersection, and backups there will slow customers headed to the company no matter what direction they come from, she said.

Meridian Title employees will be making phone calls, sending emails and warning real estate agents to tell buyers they need to leave early to arrive on time to close on a home purchase, Miller said.

Agents want a low-stress environment for their buyers, so they may take their buyers elsewhere if traffic backups make the business hard to access, she said.

Greenwood has hired Calumet Civil Contractors of Whitestown to build the turn lane and median at Smith Valley Road to ease traffic congestion in the area.

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