LAWRENCE, Ind. — In about a year, Pendleton Pike in Lawrence will begin a major transformation. It will be a long road but INDOT and city leaders believe it’s worth it.

The project would stretch five miles on Pendleton Pike, from I-465 to 65th Street. The idea is to make the stretch of road safer for drivers and pedestrians.

Right now, INDOT said Pendleton Pike sees more crashes than the state average.

”What’s the movie Fast and Furious? Pendleton Pike is Fast and Furious 1.0,” said John Stiles, the manager at Auto Glass Now right off Pendleton Pike near 465.

Stiles and coworkers use Pendleton Pike every weekday to get to their job. He said it’s always congested and they see crashes often, as recent as Monday.

”Someone turned the wrong way and a car just smashed them,” Stiles said.

INDOT is currently in the design phase to make this five-mile stretch of Pendleton pike safer – the project would add medians in the center turn lane of the roadway.

”That would allow people to drive to the nearest intersection and make a legal left turn or make a legal U-turn,” said Kyleigh Cramer, the INDOT public relations director.

The project would also include intersection improvements at 56th St. and Thunderbird Rd., added sidewalks along Pendleton Pike and beautification efforts in the medians.

Cramer said they’re working with Lawrence leaders and listening to the community right now to get their thoughts.

”That’s what this whole process is all about,” Cramer said. “Trying to understand everyone’s perspective and see what we can do with that design process.”

Some folks have shared concerns about access to businesses. Medians would mean you couldn’t make a left turn whenever you need along Pendleton Pike like you can now.

David Hoffmann, the chief of staff for the Lawrence Mayor’s office, said he hopes businesses will be patient.

“This is going to help the safety of that thoroughfare, and maybe in the long-term, that will increase their business development,” Hoffmann said.

Hoffman said they have also heard concerns from emergency services about medians slowing down response times.

”We want to do it in a thoughtful way that takes into consideration our ability for our first responders to get where they’re going as quickly as possible and that really adds to the complexity of the project,” Hoffmann said.

Stiles said he hopes the project can make Pendleton Pike safer.

”I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “At the end of the day, you cut out on a lot of accidents, a lot of erratic driving.”

The project is expected to start in early 2024 and last up to two years.

The public was invited out for a public meeting in mid-January. You can find the documents share at that meeting on the INDOT website.

Cramer said there would be a public hearing next for the project. A date has not been set but it should happen in a month or so.