Greenfield unviels designs for interchange project

GREENFIELD — The city of Greenfield recently unveiled preliminary designs for a project that aims to dress up the north entrance to the city, and organizers are seeking comments from the public.

City officials hope to spruce up the State Road 9 interchange of Interstate 70 by adding greenery and landscaping. The project will be funded through tax-increment financing district funds.

TIF money comes from businesses in the I-70 area; businesses pay property taxes into the TIF fund for infrastructure improvements in the area.

Karla Vincent, city engineer, said she’s been working with Blue Marble Design of Indianapolis to create two potential designs for the project.

The first concept features decorative, steel pillars and landscaping along the Greenfield exit off I-70 and through the median on State Road 9.

The second concept combines brick and limestone for decorative posts.

Both include signs welcoming visitors to Greenfield. Currently, the first city sign off I-70 is at State Road 9 and New Road. A sign promoting community clubs and organizations is posted south of the interchange.

City officials are seeking comments from residents about the two designs, and residents should email those comments to landscape@greenfieldin.org by July 1 so city officials can weigh feedback before moving forward with plans.

The city’s redevelopment commission has already earmarked about $1.5 million of TIF funds for the construction of the project.

Officials have discussed beautifying the north entrance of the city for about four years. Vincent said now is the right time to act as officials work to also revitalize downtown Greenfield, which sees a lot of traffic at Main and State streets.

“We want Greenfield to look welcoming,” she said.

Installing signs on I-70 would catch drivers’ eyes, she said, and make them remember Greenfield.

“Right now, the interchange is nothing special,” she said. “The city has a lot of great aspects; the interchange is not one of them.”

Officials hope work on the project will begin before the end of the year, and it will likely continue into 2016.

They also hope to work with businesses, such as Elanco, which has its world headquarters off I-70 in Greenfield.

Officials with the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Co. said they are happy to see officials taking steps to beautify the interchange.

“This I-70 exit is the doorway into Greenfield as well as Elanco’s global headquarters. We completely support the city of Greenfield in their endeavor to make this interchange distinct and beautiful,” spokeswoman Christina Gaines said in a statement.

Dave Scott, executive director of the Hancock County Tourism Bureau, said that, because the State Road 9 interchange is the only exit off I-70 into Hancock County, it’s important for it to capture the essence of the community.

Dressing up the interchange would be positive for the entire county, he said.

It needs to look safe, attractive and welcoming because many travelers driving on I-70 will stop here to stay the night, fill up their gas tanks or to just have lunch, he said.

“That’s the window that opens to Hancock County,” he said. “(The project) is just one more thing that adds to the overall ability of this community to attract and retain new folks, whether they’re tourists or potential new residents.”

Have comments?

To view more examples of preliminary designs for the Interstate 70 interchange beautification project, visit greenfieldin.org.

To submit comments about the designs to city officials, email landscape@greenfieldin.org.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.