GREENFIELD — A stop light is coming to New Road between State Road 9 and Apple Street in front of Walmart.
City officials are moving forward with a project to install a traffic signal at the intersection of New Road and Barrett Drive to cut down on traffic jams and fender benders in the area’s retail district.
Barrett Drive comprises a small stretch of road that runs north and south, giving drivers on New Road access to Greenfield Corner — the shopping center that houses Home Depot and the former Gander Mountain building — to the north and Walmart to the south.
The area sees as many as 14,000 vehicles a day, according to traffic counts from the Indiana Department of Transportation, and local law enforcement officers respond to about 10 accidents there a year. Many result from a driver failing to yield to an oncoming vehicle.
For years, city officials have mulled whether the area needed a traffic signal. The project came to fruition last year when Kohl’s and PetSmart opened north of Home Depot. The plan also included building storefronts that now house Maurices, Rue 21 and The Shoe Dept.
Final design plans for the traffic signal will be complete next month, said Mike Fruth, director of utilities.
In the next few weeks, city officials will hire a contractor to install the signal, and Mayor Chuck Fewell hopes the work can be done before year’s end.
Cost estimates for the project have not been released.
Fewell said he’s long been concerned about north- and southbound cars crossing traffic on the busy New Road thoroughfare.
“The congestion there is horrendous,” he said.
It’s a complaint city officials have heard from residents for years.
Lee McKinnon has lived in the Greenfield Crossing Apartments the past four years and said she’s seen countless accidents in the area. She’s nearly been involved in a wreck at least three times, she said.
People turning onto New Road from the Walmart or Home Depot parking lots appear to get tired of waiting for a break in traffic and pull out in front of oncoming cars, McKinnon said.
She hopes the traffic signal improves congestion in the area and is happy to hear city leaders will prohibit left turns away from the signal.
“I’m glad they’re paying attention to that area … before there’s an accident that is a fatality,” she said.
A stop light at the intersection at Barrett Drive will make that portion of New Road safer and easier to navigate for people coming in and out of shopping areas, Fewell said.
Stop signs control traffic pulling out from Barrett Drive and Melody Lane, the street that runs near the plaza housing Starbucks and Qdoba, onto New Road, but oncoming traffic doesn’t stop.
With the signal project at Barrett Drive, officials will also restrict left turns from Melody Lane onto New Road by installing a median, Fewell said. Drivers leaving the complex that houses Starbucks and Qdoba will also be restricted from turning left, or south.
The traffic signal, which will be owned and maintained by the city, will be synchronized with those on State Road 9 to prevent backups.
City leaders hope the traffic signal will expedite traffic through the area so people turning onto New Road don’t have to wait too long.
“This is going to get people where they want to go in a safe manner,” Fewell said.