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Gov. Whitmer and Rep. Upton celebrate the completion of US-31 in Berrien County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. ­- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, State Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba, and many others celebrated the completion of US-31 yesterday at an event in Benton Township, Berrien County. The highway, which was started in 1972, finally will connect between Napier Avenue and I-94 after work was halted in 2004. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has posted a video news release of the event on its YouTube channel.

"This project will save Michiganders time and money while keeping them safer on the roads," Gov. Whitmer said.

"I want to thank the MDOT people who worked so hard," Rep. Upton said. "But I also want to thank our governor because if Michigan moves forward, it’s because we have an infrastructure that it will allow us to do it."

The $121.5 million project to complete about 2 miles of new US-31 highway, rebuild 3.5 miles of I-94, and rebuild two freeway interchanges is expected to be open to traffic in the coming weeks as several coordinated projects are completed.

Funding for the project included $94 million from the governor's Rebuilding Michigan program, and $20 million in federal funding secured by Rep. Upton in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Construction of US-31 started in 1972, and the first segment opened in 1979, between US-12 and the Michigan/Indiana state line. The current project will connect US-31 to I-94 north of Napier Avenue, the final segment remaining after work was halted in 2004. More information on the history of this project and the obstacles that had to be overcome is available on the project website.

"I never thought that I would ever see this day where it would be built," said Berrien County Commissioner Jim Martin. "You wait for 20 years, and nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, in two years, you see this, and it’s just great."