MDOT to share plans for US-31 relocation project at open house
BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. – After more than four decades of development, the Michigan Department of Transportation will be completing the US-31 relocation project.
On Thursday night, MDOT will host an open house to share plans for the US-31 connection to I-94 before construction begins next summer.
The construction was approved in a 1981 Final Environmental Impact Statement, but after much progress, the project came to a halt in early 2002. The delay was due to the threat of harming the habitat of an endangered butterfly. For 15 years, the plan sat on a shelf while waiting for proper funding.
Starting in the summer 2020, MDOT will take on the $111 million project to finish the connection of US-31 from Napier Avenue to I-94.
The project features a long list of improvements to I-94, US-31 and I-94BL in Berrien County, in addition to the relocation of US-31.
According to MDOT, here’s the work that you can expect:
· Reconstructing 3.1 miles of I-94 from existing six lane divided freeway to barrier separated eight lane freeway
· On I-94, enclosed median with concrete barrier by adding an auxiliary lane in each direction from new US-31 connection to I-196
· Reconstructing all ramps at I-196 interchange
· Reconstructing and realigning 1.6 miles of I-94BL
· Constructing 2.0 miles of US-31 to new four lane divided freeway
· Removing Highland Avenue and I-94BL over I-94 bridges
· Constructing two new cul-de-sacs on Highland Avenue on each side of I-94.
· New US-31/I-94/I-94BL interchange over I-94
· Reconstructing Territorial bridge over I-94
· Rehabilitating Benton Center Rd bridge over I-94
· New bridges at Empire Ave, Britain Ave, and Benton Center Rd over US-31
Drivers are more than ready to experience free-flow traffic after being teased about the project for more than 40 years.
Michigan driver Terrance Bannister says he’s looking forward to the completion of the US-31 relocation project.
“I’d like to see it get done just as soon as possible. I travel it pretty much every day from Buchanan to South Haven, and uh it’s becoming quite a hassle to get off the highway then get back on the highway, and I lose quite a lot of time that way,” Bannister said.
According to MDOT, this is how the construction will be affected:
· Construction will take place in stages to minimize the disruption to motorists and residents.
o On I-94, two lanes of traffic will be maintained in each direction on one bound separated by a temporary concrete barrier.
o Highland Ave will be closed over I-94
o Construction of I-196/US-31 interchange ramps will be staged so access in maintained
o Territorial bridge will be closed, and traffic detoured during construction of the bridge
· Details will be available closer to the start of construction.
MDOT Spokesperson Nick Schirripa says the department is excited to finally be able to deliver and finish the project. “It’s a big step for us, and certainly a big step for the public who’s been asking for it for more than a decade,” he said.
Thursday night’s open house style meeting will walk the public through each piece of the project before construction begins. It will take place at Benton Township Hall from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The public can stop in at any time to look at displays and videos for each piece of the project. MDOT officials will be available to answer any questions.