At rush hour in the evening, traffic can back up 30 vehicles deep at the Pushville Road stop sign just because one vehicle is trying to turn left onto U.S. 31.
That stop sign can mean waiting 10 minutes for just one vehicle to move as Nachi employee Linda Brooks tries to head home after work. When more traffic is rerouted onto Pushville Road in March, she worries her wait could turn into an hour or longer if an additional 10 cars need to head south.
Motorists who use Worthsville Road worry about more accidents, traffic backups and longer trips for the next nine months during work to replace a bridge and widen the road.
About 17,000 vehicles a day pass through the intersection of U.S. 31 and Worthsville Road during the morning and evening rush hours, according to city traffic counts from 2010. Parents and workers drive Worthsville Road every day to drop off children at Clark-Pleasant schools or to get to work at Nachi America, Hetsco and Endress+Hauser.
Once that road is closed, at least some of that traffic will head south to detour on Pushville Road — with two lanes and no stoplight at U.S. 31. Motorists say the road isn’t built for the amount of diverted traffic that will use it for most of this year.
“It’ll be a mess,” said John Spurr, who runs his photography business from his home on Pushville Road.
The city expects to keep Worthsville Road closed to through traffic between Sheek Road and U.S. 31 until the end of November. Keeping the road closed will allow workers to widen Worthsville Road without dealing with traffic, making the project safer and more efficient, city community services director Mark Richards said. The work is being done as part of a project to widen a 2-mile stretch of the road to four lanes between U.S. 31 and Interstate 65.
The goal is to create a higher-speed boulevard to accommodate increased traffic expected from a new I-65 exit at Worthsville Road.
The road already is a main east-west route, especially for workers, residents in nearby neighborhoods and families headed to Clark-Pleasant Middle School and Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School, located near Worthsville and Sheek roads.
Residents driving to subdivisions and parents and buses going to Clark-Pleasant schools will detour north to Stop 18 Road and then take Sheek Road south, Richards said. Stop 18 Road, which has an average daily traffic of 5,335 vehicles, is the recommended detour route during the construction project, he said.
But local workers and residents know that is not where all the traffic will go.
Companies in the area, such as Endress+Hauser, already draw semitrailer truck traffic, and more large trucks heading south will likely take Pushville once they can’t get through on Worthsville, Spurr said.
That will mean heavy traffic on Pushville, which doesn’t have a stoplight at U.S. 31 to keep cars moving, he said.
As it is, if a car is turning left at the stop sign at U.S. 31, traffic can back up 15 to 20 cars deep behind it, Brooks said.
Brooks, a customer service representative, said her division of Nachi alone will probably add 15 vehicles that need to turn left at that stop sign. Nachi Technology and Nachi Tool America are located in the same area.
Commuters may take more risks when trying to turn left onto U.S. 31 from Pushville Road because of long waits, said Scott Richards, a training manager for Endress+Hauser. He thinks much of the traffic leaving Endress+Hauser will end up on Pushville while Worthsville is closed.
“Since there’s not a light, I’m concerned that people turning left to go south, if they get frustrated and in a hurry, they might end up creating accidents,” he said.
Commuters who typically use Worthsville will have to find other routes to and from work, and many will choose Pushville Road, Brooks said. She usually drives on Worthsville four times per day, including to and from work on her lunch break. Her co-workers often take Worthsville to get to restaurants in the area.
Once Worthsville is closed, Brooks said she will have to leave for work earlier in the morning and plan on longer waits at the stop sign at Pushville Road and U.S. 31.