BERRIEN COUNTY, MI – Excitement builds as work continues on the US-31/I-94 interchange and US-31 extension project in Michigan. The $122.5 million investment that has been in development for decades includes the building of new freeway grade, a rare endeavor for the state.
Designed by Benesch, the project calls for 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. Additionally, the design provides a US-31 freeway connection from the I-80/I-90 toll road to I-94 and US-31/I-196.
The project is being delivered using a design-build approach, requiring an agile team able to address construction inquiries that could impact the design at any moment.
“This project presented some interesting challenges for the design team, namely the tight deadlines, environmental items, and complexities brought by the existing bridges,” commented Benesch Project Manager Doug Strauss.
The project required the removal of three, 60-year-old bridges. While the plan originally was to remove half at a time under traffic, it became apparent that their age and complexity would prevent that from being done safely.
“The design team was able to quickly pivot and develop a plan to safely remove the bridges over three, 12-hour periods,” explained Strauss. “Despite the challenges, the design came together successfully, and the new route will be great for both commuter and commercial traffic through the area.”
With $94 million in funding coming from the Rebuilding Michigan Program, the project is part of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to invest in state highways and bridges critical to the state’s economy. Construction will progress though the year and is anticipated to be completed in 2022.
Learn more about the project and program in the Michigan Department of Transportation’s latest update video, featuring MDOT Coloma Business Office Construction Engineer Kenton McAndrews: