20170622dr interstate landscape
This updated artist’s rendering shows a proposed gateway into Greenfield off Interstate 70. SUBMITTED ILLUSTRATION

GREENFIELD — A $1.5 million design plan for the Interstate 70 exit into Greenfield has been finalized — and it looks little like initial renderings.

City officials were forced to scale back the project after the contractor’s first quote came in well over budget. Originally, plans called for 12 decorative posts — six on each side of State Road 9 — a sign and landscaping, including trees and greenery, to be installed near the interstate interchange.

But those plans carried a $3 million price tag, double what city officials have long budgeted for the project.

Instead, local contractor Smith Projects Inc. will erect six brick masts — estimated to cost about $1.53 million — along State Road 9 near the I-70 exit. Landscaping along the State Road 9 median and the sign welcoming visitors to Greenfield have been scrapped from the design, city officials said.

Contractors are now working with city officials to finalize construction details and timelines to begin work on the project that’s been at least five years in the making. Construction is expected to start this summer.

City leaders have mulled dressing up the area for years, earmarking about $1.5 million of tax increment finance funds — money generated from businesses in the I-70 area for infrastructure improvements — for construction. City leaders say sprucing up the main entry into the city could benefit local economic development and tourism by making the area more attractive. Now, the exit off I-70 into Greenfield is uninviting to passers-by and visitors, they say.

There’s no sign immediately off I-70 welcoming visitors to the area. The only “Welcome to Greenfield, Indiana” sign is posted at the first stop sign south of the interstate; but it sits off the west side of State Road 9 and is easy to miss.

Immediate work will focus on installing the decorative posts, which will be visible to drivers on Interstate 70, city engineer Karla Vincent told city leaders recently. She hopes landscaping can be added later, she said.

Mayor Chuck Fewell said he’s eager to see the project finally move forward after progress hit several bumps along the way.

Officials first unveiled two potential designs for the project in June 2015. At the time, they asked residents to weigh in on which proposal they liked best. When surveyed, many residents liked aspects of both designs, so the board of works sent the design firm, now called Hitchcock Design Group, back to the drawing board to create a design that combined features from both.

The masts are a step in the right direction, Fewell said, noting their visibility from the interstate. The final design will accomplish what city officials set out do do while being mindful of taxpayer dollars, he said.

Once the posts are up, Fewell hopes to have signs posted near both exits welcoming drivers to the area, he said.

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