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US-131 Constantine bypass construction to start in February

Contact: Nick Schirripa, MDOT Office of Communications,
Agency: Transportation

January 22, 2013 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is scheduled to begin construction of the US-131 Constantine bypass on Monday, Feb. 4. The two-lane bypass includes a new 870-foot bridge over the Saint Joseph River. Contractors DJ McQuestion & Sons and Rieth-Riley, will lead the $18 million project.

"We are honoring our commitment to improving the efficiency of the US-131 corridor," said Greg Johnson, MDOT chief operations officer. "This bypass will greatly aid commercial transport and the economy of the entire region."

The bypass around the village of Constantine will span nearly 5 miles from Garber Road to Dickinson Road.

"There has been talk of this bypass in the village for at least 50 years, and I've been working on it myself for 14 years. I'm just so thrilled to have it becoming a reality," said Constantine Village President Pat Weiss. "We haven't been able to get a stop light in the downtown, and now people will be able to cross the street without all the truck traffic. This definitely was a safety issue for our community.

"Our DDA has worked very hard on downtown improvements, and there have been a lot of changes in the downtown area to help our merchants in any way we can. We knew this was coming, and we're hoping for good things for our downtown business owners."

"I'm glad to see it getting started," said Constantine Township Supervisor James Paananen. In addition to the new roadway, the bypass construction will create new intersections with Stears Road, Riverside Drive, North River Road, Millers Mill Road, Youngs Prairie Road, and Zerbe Road. The project also will turn the following existing through-roads into cul-de-sacs: Stears Road, west of the bypass; and Birch Street and Millers Mill Road, east of the bypass.

Commercial traffic delivering goods and services throughout the Midwest now will have an easier and more reliable route to travel through southwest Michigan.

"To be an attractive region for companies and residents alike, our region needs infrastructure that easily allows people and products to get from place to place fast and cost-effectively," said Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer (CEO) of Southwest Michigan First. "These improvements to the logistics system in Constantine will enhance our region's ability to compete by connecting the area to broader markets."

"The Chamber has long advocated for improving US-131 to the Indiana border," said Rick Baker, president/CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. "This project is an essential component to economic growth and development and is a key part in improving the only major north-south corridor in west Michigan. As planned improvements to US-131 like this become a reality, local businesses will be able to get products from their suppliers faster and trucking companies can spend less time on the road. When businesses are looking to expand or locate to our area, a variety of different components factor into their decision: taxes, environment, skilled workers, and the ability to get their products to market. As the area's leading business advocate, we are glad to see that things are moving forward."

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