MADISON, IN (WAVE) - After building a new bridge to connect Madison, Indiana to Milton, Kentucky, work is underway to make the trip into downtown Madison much easier.
Right now, three 90-degree turns make traffic a nightmare on U.S. 421 through downtown as semis and commuters try to navigate the area. After the new bridge was built, planning began to improve that bridge approach to make getting through 421 less stressful.
"This is not only a gateway into Madison, but a gateway into Indiana," said Damon Welch, Mayor of Madison, Indiana.
The new 421 approach will eliminate turns drivers currently have to make coming into downtown Madison. Instead, a new path will be created to go straight up the hill, connecting with the current U.S. 421 and continuing on past the Jefferson County, Indiana courthouse.
Jane Lorenz lives between the first and second 90-degree turns on 421. She said she and her neighbors are excited to see this new approach built, it’s not something they ever expected to see.
"It's a dream come true," Lorenz said.
"It'll be safer, more streamlined," said Natalie Garrett, Indiana Department of Transportation Seymour District Spokesperson.
Community leaders broke ground on the new approach Monday afternoon, work began in earnest on the project earlier in April. When it's done in 2020, community leaders are hopeful it will spur new growth.
“We hope so," said Nicole Schell, city planner and preservation coordinator for Madison, Indiana. “For a while, that corridor has kind of been neglected, both by the city and the state, quite frankly. And we’re hoping, now that they see the state and the city are willing to invest, I think the owners around that area are also going to invest.”
A stellar community designation by the state has brought forward interest in these kind of community improvements, especially in the downtown area. Work is being done nearby to transform an old tack factory into senior housing, an old cotton mill into a boutique hotel. And, when the new 421 approach is finished, part of Main Street will go back to the town’s control, with highway traffic routed off it in places.
"And that really gives the city a lot of exciting leeway to do what we want with Main St. We really get to re-imagine what Main Street could be for the future and really make it what we want," said Andrew Forrester, Community Relations Director for Madison, Indiana.
With big events like the Madison Regatta coming up, Welch said these projects are opening up new levels of growth for the riverfront town.
“I think we’ve already seen an increased amount of traffic since the new bridge has been built,” Welch said. “And this bridge approach is just going to add to that. So we’re excited, we’ve had some other projects going on the river that are going to be destinations for people who want to come and visit Madison. So there’s a lot going on and we’re very thankful. I think the challenge in the future is going to be yeah, we want to move into the future and take advantage of where the culture is going but also remain Madison and be that town where people want to come and visit, live and work here.”