The finish line is in sight for a road construction project that has left a major Old Town Greenwood intersection inaccessible.
Since August, the intersection of Main Street and Madison Avenue has been closed as work crews reconstruct the intersection, widen sidewalks, install new traffic signals and upgrade drainage infrastructure. Downtown businesses have been encouraging customers to continue to visit Old Town despite the construction that has made it difficult for foot traffic into some businesses.
But the construction pains are nearly over as crews are nearly done with the work. The intersection is set to reopen later this fall, said Kevin Steinmetz, capital projects manager for the city of Greenwood.
“I know it’s been frustrating. Trust me, it’s frustrated us too, but it’s gonna be good when it’s done,” he said.
The total project is expected to cost between $4.5 to $5 million, including utility work. The streetscape work — decorative bricks, lighting, paving and sidewalks — is likely in the high $3 million range and is being paid with cash on hand allocated from the Central and East TIF, or tax increment financing, districts by the redevelopment commission. The utilities will pay the costs associated with their infrastructure, Steinmetz said.
The project area includes the Main and Madison intersection, along with a small section of Madison north of Main and a section of Main Street from Madison to Meridian. These areas have not been improved by the city recently, he said.
Though the intersection closed in August, work technically began several months earlier.
In spring 2022, Indiana American Water told the city they planned to replace water mains along Main Street — specifically from U.S. 31 to Meridian Street. The project was needed to replace antiquated water mains that were undersized for fire protection needs, Steinmetz said.
At this time, city officials told the utility about their own construction plans to redo the streetscapes for Main Street and Madison Avenue. Rather than tear up a new street, city officials decided to wait to start their project after Indiana American Water was done. The utility was behind schedule with their project by about 90 days, but it cleared the way for the city’s project, he said.
As part of the city’s project, crews have fixed antiquated sewer connections and replaced sanitary sewer lines for buildings along that area of Main Street and Madison Avenue. Steinmetz says one of the biggest parts of the project has been adding something that wasn’t there before: a stormwater system.
“There really wasn’t a stormwater system. It all just kind of sheet-drained on the road,” he said. “So we’ve installed a whole new stormwater underground system that can convey the water away from those buildings and off Main Street.”
New, wider sidewalks have also been installed. These sidewalks are brick, which is a call back to when the roads were brick in Greenwood a century ago, Steinmetz said.
Whenever walking or Americans with Disabilities Act studies were done for the area, people did not feel comfortable walking on the old sidewalks with traffic going by. Now the sidewalks are at least double, and in some cases more than double, the size they were before, he said.
“It will allow not only connectivity for pedestrians through Old Town because that connects Old City Park and other areas, but will allow the businesses who are there now and in the future to be able to have a lot more viability and a lot more vibrancy,” Steinmetz said.
The Main Street and Madison Avenue intersection itself will also be brick. Making the intersection brick is designed to give it a “sense of place,” Steinmetz said.
“Even though it’s taking more time, the brickwork in the streets and the sidewalks will give that area — the commercial historic district and ultimately, the residential historic district — a real sense of place, a real sense of history,” he said.
New traffic signals and decorative lighting are also being installed. The old traffic signal was notorious for going out, he said.
“It seemed like every time a thunderstorm happened, it started blinking, just flashing yellow,” Steinmetz said.
The new decorative, catenary lights will be stringed back and forth from pole to pole. It will look similar to the lights that are present in the Bottleworks District and along Georgia Street in Indianapolis, Steinmetz said.
“Those will zig-zag across Main Street,” he said.
Although the new decorative lights have been ordered, they are not planned to be installed right now as they are not critical to road traffic, he said.
“They should probably go up definitely before Thanksgiving sometime, but we’ll open the road before those come in,” Steinmetz said.
Crews are currently working on installing the brick pavers at the Main and Madison intersection, along with getting the new traffic signals energized. Once they are done, officials will be able to get the road reopened in a matter of weeks, Steinmetz said.
Because of the wider sidewalks, there will be changes to how the intersection operates. Cars coming from Interstate 65 driving west into downtown can no longer turn left at Madison Avenue, Steinmetz said.
“It was a real trouble spot,” he said. “So to get the wider sidewalks, and get the better safety and radiuses around the building, that left-hand turn is eliminated.”
To get to Madison Avenue, drivers will have to continue past Madison and turn left on Market Plaza. They could also turn left at Meridian Street, drive a bit and then turn right onto Surina Way, he said.
“Part of the reason, in 2018, that we built Surina Way was so we’d have extra capacity to be able to widen the sidewalks on Main Street,” Steinmetz said.
Steinmetz says the city is looking forward to having the intersection open. Those who come to Old Town to get coffee or dinner should drive slowly and get used to the changes once it opens, he said.