US-131 Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study
Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) represents a collaborative and integrated approach to transportation decision-making that considers environmental, community, and economic goals early in the transportation planning process. The information analysis and products developed during the PEL study is then used to inform the formal federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process.
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has identified the segment of US-131 between M-11 (28th Street) in Wyoming and the S-curve in Grand Rapids as a priority to be analyzed in a PEL study, based on comments received previously during the initial study process. The US-131/100th Street and I-96/Fruit Ridge Avenue interchanges were also identified as priorities earlier in this process. The US-131/100th Street interchange improvement project was completed in fall 2020.
The first phase of public involvement of the US-131 PEL study closed on Feb. 8. The first phase included public review and comments on the draft Purpose and Need Statements and the draft Evaluation Criteria for alternatives. Thank you to all who have taken the survey and provided feedback. Additional public involvement opportunities will be provided upon development of draft alternatives and throughout the study development process.
For additional accessibility options, please contact MDOT’s Title VI coordinator.
Orlando T. Curry, MSA
Title VI Coordinator
425 W. Ottawa
Lansing, MI 48909
US-131 through Grand Rapids and Wyoming is the busiest freeway corridor in Michigan outside of Metro Detroit. It provides local access for commuting trips into downtown Grand Rapids and serves as an important north-south regional corridor, supporting the west Michigan and state economies The corridor, bounded by M-11 (28th Street) and the S-curve in downtown Grand Rapids, was originally constructed in the early 1960s, and in the coming years MDOT will need to consider significant long-term reinvestment in its infrastructure.
- US-131 from 100th Street north to M-57, and
- I-96 from Fruit Ridge Avenue east to Leonard Street.
The initial PEL process included extensive data collection and identification of impacts and issues. This was followed by input from area stakeholders and the public. Public meetings were held in Grand Rapids and Walker, presentations were made at Grand Valley Metropolitan Council metropolitan planning organization (MPO) meetings, and individual stakeholders commented in smaller group meetings. This process resulted in key focus areas within the broader US-131 and I-96 corridors in Kent County, which include:
- US-131/100th Street interchange improvements in southern Kent County (completed in fall 2020),
- I-96/Fruit Ridge Avenue interchange improvements in northwest Walker, and
- Refocused analysis of US-131 between M-11 (28th Street) and Market Avenue, known as the US-131 PEL.
The purpose of the US-131 PEL study is to evaluate cost-effective improvements to the road and bridge conditions, safety, and operations of US-131 through this segment, while also considering local needs for access, community development and economic growth.
The PEL study process allows MDOT to evaluate alternatives and impacts, as required by federal regulations, without making a specific funding commitment. This will provide MDOT the opportunity to complete the federal NEPA process on a more expedited schedule and be ready for construction when funding is available.
Additional information regarding the original US-131 and I-96 PEL in Kent County and the PEL process in general can be found under the Documents and Materials section at the bottom of this page.
- Purpose and Need
A Purpose and Need Statement is used in PEL studies to explain to the decision-makers, public, and stakeholders why the proposed project should be implemented. The Purpose defines the goals and objectives of the study, and the Needs identify specific problems to be solved and supported by data and analysis related to the problem. The draft Purpose and Need Statements below were developed in consultation with the US-131 PEL Local Advisory Committee (LAC) in 2020. These statements will also be available for public comment as part of phase 1 of the PEL study.
Draft Purpose Statements
- Improve traffic safety and operations.
- Maintain essential local and regional mobility.
- Relieve congestion and improve travel time reliability for freight, passenger and emergency transportation locally and regionally.
- Address pavement and bridge infrastructure condition.
- Maximize multi-modal access and improve access to the freeway.
- Identify partnership opportunities to enhance all modes of travel along corridors adjacent to the freeway.
- Identify improvement priorities based on reasonably anticipated future revenues.
- Minimize travel disruptions and delays during construction phases of future improvement projects within the PEL segment.
- Assess opportunities for future infrastructure maintenance efficiencies.
Draft Need Statements
- Accommodate growing regional traffic volumes and metro area development.
- Address safety, operational and congestion issues.
- Rehabilitate and reconstruct aging infrastructure.
- Manage interchange spacing and operational issues resulting from changing travel and adjacent land use patterns.
- Identify freight transportation bottlenecks and access limitations.
- Mobility challenges for nonmotorized connections across the freeway.
- Maximize local street grid connections.
- Public transit circulation issues, particularly at Rapid Central Station.
- Consider travel and access needs for emergency vehicles and first responders.
- Project Phases
There are four general phases for the US-131 PEL. The phases will be conducted by MDOT with the support of members from the US-131 Local Advisory Committee (LAC). The LAC consists of various stakeholders from the Grand Rapids and Wyoming areas surrounding the study corridor. The LAC provides support on data collection, outreach efforts and other PEL processes. All PEL phases provided below will have opportunities for public comments and feedback.
- Phase 1: Investigate current corridor conditions and develop draft Purpose and Need Statement and evaluation criteria.
- Phase 2: Develop corridor improvement alternatives and review their performance against criteria.
- Phase 3: Select and refine preferred alternative(s), develop plans and potential timeline for implementation.
- Future Steps: Complete formal environmental review, then the preferred alternative(s) will be designed and constructed when funding is identified. Funding is based on statewide needs and priorities.
Please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public involvement opportunities may be limited to virtual events and online surveys. MDOT is currently on Phase 1 of the US-131 PEL.
For general inquiries regarding the PEL, please use the US-131 and I-96 PEL study comments form by clicking the link below:
Nick Jasinski, Region Design Engineer
Dennis Kent, Region Transportation Planner
Michigan Department of Transportation
Grand Region Office
1420 Front Ave., NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Toll-Free: 866-815-MDOT (6368)
- US-131 and I-96 PEL Study Comments Form