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Editorial: Widening Worthsville Road to start as early as spring

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Sometimes you wait so long for something to begin that you’re almost surprised when it starts.

That’s the feeling many of us in Johnson County had when last week Greenwood took some concrete and very public steps toward widening a major street and building a third city interchange on Interstate 65.

After years of planning, construction should start this year.

The Greenwood City Council unanimously approved borrowing about $30 million to build the interchange at Worthsville Road and widen the street to handle the increased traffic. The approval is the final one needed before construction can begin on a project that’s aimed at lessening congestion, spurring economic development and building a major east-west route that’s been talked about for decades.

Work could start as soon as this spring, Mayor Mark Myers said. The project is part of an east-west corridor that eventually will move traffic more efficiently across Johnson County and connect I-65 with I-74 in Shelby County and State Road 37, which is slated to be converted to part of I-69.

Making Worthsville Road a gateway into southern Greenwood will be one of the biggest and most expensive road projects in city history. City officials hope that it will pay off by helping to attract business parks and other high-end development and by opening up more of the city’s southeast side to development.

Greenwood plans to borrow about $20 million to widen Worthsville Road to four lanes between U.S. 31 and Interstate 65. The revamped road will include a raised and landscaped median and an intermittent center turn lane, trails and a roundabout at the Sheek Road intersection.

The city will borrow another $10 million to pay for its share of a Worthsville Road interchange on I-65. The state also will contribute up to $10 million for that project, which is expected to start in 2014.

A widened Worthsville Road would offer commuters another alternative and is expected to lessen traffic on Sheek Road and Main Street. A third exit in Greenwood is expected to reduce congestion and improve safety at the Main Street interchange, since Center Grove-area, Whiteland and New Whiteland residents won’t have to go all the way to Main Street to get on the interstate.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has been working on an environmental study that will gauge the impact of a new interchange and could have a public hearing as soon as this month, spokesman Greg Prince said.

The city plans to repay the loans with money from tax-increment financing districts that collect property tax dollars from new development in specific areas and channel them into road and other infrastructure projects.

This is an exciting and major step in what has been a long journey. We celebrate that with the city and look forward to the project’s completion.

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