BERRIEN COUNTY, MI – As construction nears completion on the long-awaited connection of US-31 to I-94 in Berrien County, community members gathered to celebrate the project and walk, run or bike the highway before it opens to motorists. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) hosted the ribbon cutting ceremony and event as a way to introduce the public to their new highway.
“After 40 years of planning and 2.5 years of design and construction, having the final piece of the US-31 freeway extension complete is certainly something to celebrate,” said Benesch Project Manager Doug Strauss.
The Benesch designed project provides a US-31 freeway connection from the I-80/I-90 toll road to I-94 and US-31/I-196. It included the reconstruction of I-94 from the existing six lane divided freeway to a barrier separated eight lane freeway; the reconstruction and realignment of I-94 Business Loop; a new roundabout on the I-94 Business Loop; the permanent removal of two bridges; and the construction of four new bridges to accommodate the new freeway and interchange.
“Since this project was delivered with a design-build approach, collaboration with MDOT, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and the contractor team was key to our success,” said Strauss. “We not only worked together to address complex bridge removals, but also developed enhanced wetland, improved water quality and reduced environmental impacts.”
The new roadway completes the last segment of US-31 to connect directly to I-94 & I-196. It provides access to west side of Michigan and Grand Rapids without forcing traffic to exit a freeway and travel county roads to get to an interchange with I-94, saving time and money for everyone.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s and other state and local representatives joined the festivities to celebrate the completion of a project decades in the making. The Governor’s Rebuilding Michigan program provided $94 million in funding for the project and supported 1,206 jobs.