The town of Speedway is beginning construction on a long-planned roundabout near its world-famous racetrack that will lead to the closure of Georgetown Road while creating a gateway to Main Street.
Speedway broke ground Monday on the $15.1 million road project, which should be finished by November, with the aim of making the Crawfordsville Road and 16th Street intersection much safer for motorists.
The intersection is made even more perilous by Georgetown Road’s connecting to the north. Speedway officials say that roughly two-thirds of the town’s auto accidents occur at that intersection.
“It addresses a very dysfunctional intersection,” said Scott Harris, executive director of Speedway’s redevelopment commission. “And we’ve done a lot of development along Main Street, and off of Crawfordsville Road there really is no direct access to Main Street.”
The reconfiguring of the roadways represents Speedway’s latest attempt to transform the town into a year-round racing destination. The 400-plus-acre redevelopment project includes road improvements, land acquisition and a total makeover of Main Street.
Construction of the roundabout has been a long time coming. Speedway officials have been considering it since adopting the town’s master plan in 2007.
The biggest changes: Georgetown Road will end in a cul-de-sac just north of the current intersection at 16th Street, while Main Street will connect to the roundabout from the south.
“We think this is a project that establishes a gateway and a streetscape that will provide access to our Main Street businesses and enhance what we’re trying to do to create economic development on the west side of Indianapolis,” Speedway Town Manager Ian Nicolini said.
Main Street now hosts about a dozen festivals, parades and events annually, including Monsters on Main, Speedway Spectacular, Indy Jazz Fest and Hops & Flip Flops.
With Georgetown Road’s closure, town officials hope to convert the street into a “linear park” to make it more pedestrian-friendly during activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The racetrack’s grandstands in some places sit just 17 feet from the road, Harris said.
From July 29-31, the intersection of 16th Street and Crawfordsville and Georgetown roads will be closed from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. Georgetown Road will no longer be a through street beginning Aug. 11 and will serve local traffic only south of 25th Street.
Harris acknowledges that the closure of Georgetown Road will be inconvenient for some motorists but said the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks.
“This will provide for a gateway that will be more dramatic and better for the world’s greatest racing venue,” he said.
Federal funds will pay for most of the $15.1 million project, with Speedway matching 20 percent of the total cost.