US 131 interchange in downtown Grand Rapids to receive $10 million for possible reconfiguration

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – State lawmakers have earmarked $ 10 million to rebuild or possibly reconfigure the Wealthy Street interchange at US 131.

While any construction using the funds is likely a year or more away, Michigan Transportation Department spokesman John Richard said the dollars could be used to reconstruct the exchange, or possibly even change the way how it is configured.

“There is talk of, ‘Well, what if 131 just went over the wealthy?'” Richard said. “‘What if 131 went under wealthy and just bypassed the exchange?’ So there are all sorts of options out there. “

The dollars are part of the state’s $ 70 billion budget for 2021-22, which lawmakers approved on Wednesday, September 22. He now goes to the governor’s desk.

Related: $ 70 billion Michigan budget deal includes spending increases on childcare, colleges, infrastructure, and more

In a press release from the Michigan House of Representatives, officials said the funds will be used for “much-needed infrastructure improvements at the intersection.”

The potential interchange reconfiguration is part of a study MDOT conducted on the US-131 corridor between 28th Street and the S-curve in downtown Grand Rapids.

The corridor is the busiest section of the highway in west Michigan, with about 120,000 drivers traveling north and south each day, Richard said.

To fix and maintain the entire route without reconfiguration, the bill would be hundreds of millions of dollars, he said. It’s a bill that is beyond the department’s budget.

The study, which is expected to be completed in mid-2022, would outline possible reconfigurations of the route, which is crammed with entrances and exits. The recommended practice with the Wealthy Street interchange would be included in this completed study.

“They talk about restricted access to some of these transportation hubs,” Richard said. “You might take out some of these intersections to leave more space between them, and then add weave merge lanes between the intersections to connect them so you can jump to another intersection without having to get on through traffic . “

The public will have an opportunity to ponder some of the suggestions later this year when a poll kicks off later this fall or early winter.

“We really want to get the public’s attention,” Richard said. “We have a good idea of ​​what we want to do. What we wanna do. But we want to reach out to the public and get their comments and perspectives on what they are looking for. There’s a lot we can do on this route because there are these intersections that are so close together. “

Regardless of whether or not the section of the freeway is reconfigured, Richard said it “at least” needs to be reconstructed. It was built in the 1960s.

“No matter what we do, if we leave it exactly as it is, we need new bridges; we need a new road; We need new foundations, ”he said.

“There’s a lot of work out there. That’s why we want to narrow it down to the best possible choice because it’s such a busy route. “

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