Zionsville residents on Thursday, Oct. 10, got their first glimpse of a study on widening County Road 300 South from a two-lane country road to a four-lane divided road.
The study conducted by engineering firm Beam-Longest-Neff includes four miles of C.R. 300 S. from C.R. 800 E. to C.R. 1200 E., where it turns into 146th Street in Hamilton County.
Plans are in the infancy stages, and BLN drawings included several options for the two intersections that included roundabouts or four-way stops, among other choices.
There is currently no money earmarked to fund the project, and no timeline has been established. But improving that road as the population and traffic increase has been on the Boone County Thoroughfare Plan since 1999 and was reaffirmed when the plan was last revised in 2017.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, Boone County Highway Department and Town of Zionsville shared the cost of about $150,000 for the study presented Thursday, with the MPO taking half and the other two a fourth each, Boone County Highway Director Craig Parks said. All three entities share jurisdiction of the road.
John Beery, BLN transportation manager, presented information to a standing-room-only crowd in Zionsville Town Hall. The audience was invited to study maps and diagrams on tables and easels and to question BLN staff, city officials and Parks.
BLN provided comment forms and markers for residents to write concerns directly onto the maps so BLN representatives can address them as they fine tune plans.
Peter and Carol Bick live in The Willows subdivision for “empty nesters,” they said. They moved from Indianapolis to the neighborhood with a lake about seven years ago and were told at the time that the road would someday be expanded.
“We expected it,” Carol said.
She and Peter studied how the plan related to their ranch-style home in their “quiet neighborhood” on the BLN map and asked a few questions. Noise from increased traffic and more big trucks were their largest concerns, but they have a wait-and-see attitude.
Peter said traffic gets significantly backed up twice a day, at rush hours, but is otherwise uncongested. A real safety problem, though, is a bottleneck caused by a narrow bridge just inside Hamilton County, and he’d like to see that widened for when the Boone County project eventually connects there.
Ron Malone also lives in The Willows, but closer to C.R. 300 S., and wonders how much the new roadway and sidewalk will encroach in his yard, but isn’t sweating it.
“A lot of people get all up in arms, but I’m OK with it,” he said, adding, “I’m OK with progress.”
Parks and Beery said the road does not have enough capacity for its current load, and the project will take into account projected growth for the next 50 years.
That stretch of C.R. 300 S. has some of the county’s most rolling terrain, which causes concern during weather events such as snowstorms, Parks said, adding that motorists get stuck there during snow events.
And crash data show the intersection with C.R. 975 is dangerous.
Engineers will improve safety along the road and reconfigure the intersection, because the traffic load is only expected to grow, Parks said.
C.R. 300 S. was connected to C.R. 400 S. and opened in November, merging with Albert S. White Parkway, which has two divided lanes but is built to easily expand to four lanes.
C.R. 300 S. will eventually connect Interstate 65 with Interstate 69, “providing an arterial connection on a local road system,” Parks said.
Even further down the road, and not part of this project, a road yet to be named will connect to Ronald Reagan Parkway in Hendricks County and connect Boone County and I-69 to Interstate 70 more quickly, Parks said.
The study is a document the county, town and MPO can refine and use to make a formal document and start seeking federal funding and grants for construction when projected costs become clearer. It will take years to obtain funding and even longer to begin building, with four to five years being the earliest possible date, Beery said. Even then, work will likely be done in phases because of funding limitations, Parks said.