New Whiteland to study traffic impact on three roads

New Whiteland plans to study traffic patterns on Tracy, Whiteland and Sawmill roads this year to look into potentially restructuring and widening all three in the future.

The town plans to spend $38,500 on a contract with Indianapolis-based GRW Engineers Inc. to conduct the study over the course of this year. The money will come from its $700,000 in funds allocated from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The study will look at a one mile section of Tracy Road west of U.S. 31 to the town limits and a 0.4 mile stretch of Whiteland Road, also west of U.S. 31 from town limits to Sawmill Road. The stretch of Sawmill Road between the Tracy and Whiteland Road intersections will also be part of the study.

GRW will count traffic patterns on each road, examine the two intersections at Sawmill Road and look at the basic elements needed for improvement. The study will determine if widening the roads is the best course of action and recommend other changes to improve traffic flow, according to the agreement letter from GRW to the town. It will also provide an estimate for the total cost of the project.

New Whiteland and the surrounding area has experienced exponential residential growth in recent years, adding increased east-west traffic on these three two-lane roads, said Duane McCauslin, the town public works superintendent. The condition of roads is deteriorating and struggling to keep up with the traffic, he told the New Whiteland Town Council at its May 25 meeting.

“I don’t know how many of you have seen the condition of these roads, but this is something we need to start now,” McCauslin said.

This study, which is expected to be complete in October, is the start of a long process to eventually restructure all three roads. Conducting a road study first will allow the town to apply for federal and state road funding grants for construction, which could take years to apply for and get, McCauslin said.

Potentially widening that stretch of Tracy Road west of U.S. 31 is a first priority because it sees higher traffic levels, he said. The study will also examine the viability of constructing a 12-foot-wide walking trail along the road from U.S. 31 to Proctor Park.

McCauslin estimated roughly that just the construction of Tracy Road could cost up to $2 million, but it is too early to determine a final number, he said.

All three roads would not be under construction at the same time, and these projects will likely take years to develop.

“It’s not something we’re going to do all at once, nor would the residents allow us to facilitate tearing up three major roads at once,” McCauslin said.

The town council approved the contract with GRW Engineers at its May 25 meeting. The council is expected to vote to allocate ARPA funds for the project at its next meeting in early July.