M-6 opens four years ahead of schedule
November 17, 2004 - - Four years ahead of schedule, the new $650 million M-6 (Paul B. Henry Freeway) in southern Kent and Ottawa counties was opened to traffic by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Wednesday, Nov. 17, just in time for the evening rush hour. The new east-west limited access freeway links Interstates 96 and 196 just south of Grand Rapids.
"This project marks a milestone in Michigan's transportation system," Lt. Governor John D. Cherry, Jr. said. "The new freeway we are opening today will be a great economic boon to this region, making the movement of workers and products safer, quicker and more efficient."
"Opening M-6 ahead of schedule is due to outstanding work by MDOT employees and our many partners in the Grand Region," said State Transportation Director Gloria J. Jeff. "Building a freeway of this magnitude is a major initiative which would not have been possible to complete without a dedicated workforce, diligent contractors and consultants. We are grateful for the local and legislative support we received throughout the process. Michigan finished a mega-project ahead of schedule and within budget."
"An incredible amount of talent and energy went into this project," said Roger Safford, Grand Region engineer. "It is an investment that will improve operations and safety in this area in general and facilitate access to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Kent County."
The new freeway was constructed with two 12-foot lanes in each direction and an 80-foot wide grassy median. The median width allows for the addition of a third lane in each direction as future capacity needs dictate, saving the time and money that would be needed to construct a center median wall.
The Kalamazoo Avenue interchange features a Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI), a new type of interchange that can handle high traffic volumes in a limited amount of space. It will be one of only three such interchanges in the state, and the only SPUI in west Michigan. There will be eight interchanges connecting M-6 to interstates and primary local roads: 1-96, M-37, Kalamazoo Avenue, US-131, Bryon Center Avenue, Wilson Avenue, 8th Avenue and I-196.
"Because this alignment went through natural areas, we were careful to preserve as many of the natural features as we possibly could. Protection of the environment was important all the way through the planning, design and construction process. We created 225 acres of wetlands, many more than were displaced," said Safford.
Following a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by local officials, MDOT employees and contractor and consultant representatives, MDOT construction crews removed barricades and signs from the on-ramps at the interchanges in order for M-6 to be open to traffic during the evening rush hour.
For more information about the new M-6, log on to www.michigan.gov/mdot.
The following is a partial list of the prime contractors and consultants who, led by Team MDOT, have worked on the M-6 project over the years. Many more subcontractors and subconsultants were involved over the life of the project:
Ajax Paving Industries
Alfred Benesch & Company
CA Hull Co., Inc.
Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc.
Fleis and Vandenbrink Engineering, Inc.
Hardiman Construction, Inc.
Kamminga & Roodvoets, Inc.
LS Engineering Inc.
Maclean Construction Company
Milbocker & Sons, Inc.
Moore & Bruggink, Inc.
Parsons Transportation Group
Soil & Materials Engineers, Inc.
Thompson McCully Co.
Wilcox & Associates
Velting Contractors, Inc.
Team MDOT and You: Working together to move Michigan forward