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US-131 Planning & Environmental Linkages Study

Photo of a busy US-131 from Burton Street looking north.
Department of Transportation

US-131 Planning & Environmental Linkages Study

MDOT has identified the segment of US-131 between M-11 (28th Street) in Wyoming and Cherry Street in Grand Rapids as a priority to be analyzed in a planning and environmental linkages (PEL) study. A PEL study 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, such as environmental assessments or environmental impact statements.

Phase 3 Public and Stakeholder Engagement Materials

Introduction Video
Story Map
Open House Displays - Nov. 2023
Flyer - English
Flyer - Español
Flyer - Kiswahili

In addition to this survey, MDOT will continue outreach efforts with stakeholders throughout this study. This survey is not the only opportunity for public comments, but one of many outreach efforts. As the study continues into subsequent phases, additional public outreach efforts will be included.

After the completion of the US-131 PEL study, MDOT intends to partner with the City of Grand Rapids using funding allocated from the state Legislature to look at detailed engineering and design needs associated with the US-131/Wealthy Street interchange. At this time, no funding is programmed for future rebuilding projects on US-131 stemming from the PEL study and subsequent efforts.

US-131 PEL Study FAQs

Contact

Nick Jasinski
Region Design Engineer

Dennis Kent
Region Transportation Planner

MDOT Grand Region
1420 Front Ave., NW
Grand Rapids, MI  49504

616-451-3091

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Accessibility Notice

Attendees who require mobility, visual, hearing, written or other assistance for effective participation should contact Orlando Curry at 517-241-7462 preferably at least 5 business days prior to the scheduled meeting. Forms are located on the Title VI webpageRequests made after this timeframe will be evaluated and honored to the extent possible.

US-131 in 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 built in the early 1960s; in the coming years, MDOT will need to consider significant long-term reinvestment in its infrastructure.

MDOT began a PEL study, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, around 2012. The initial, broader PEL study looked at long-term preservation and operational needs for:

  • US-131 from 100th Street north to M-57, and
  • I-96 from Fruit Ridge Avenue east to Leonard Street.

US-131 and I-196 PEL Map

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
    • Project completed in fall 2020
  • I-96/Fruit Ridge Avenue interchange improvements in northwest Walker
    • Expected construction in 2024-2026
  • Operational improvements on US-131 between I-96 and M-57
    • Active traffic management (ATM) lane to be built between I-96 and Post Drive (expected in 2027-2028)
  • Refocused analysis of US-131 between M-11 (28th Street) and Cherry Street, known as the US-131 PEL.

US-131 PEL Corridor Map

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 laws and 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.

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.

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.

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.

There are three general phases for the US-131 PEL. The phases will be conducted by MDOT with the support of members from the US-131 LAC, consisting 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. Completed in spring 2021.

Phase 2: Develop corridor improvement alternatives and review their performance against criteria. Completed in summer 2022.

Phase 3: Select and refine preferred alternative(s), develop plans and potential timeline for implementation. Anticipated completion in fall-winter 2023.

Future Steps: 

  • Using funding provided by the state Legislature, conduct further analysis of the US-131/Wealthy Street interchange. This includes potential needs for interchange modernization, detailed data collection and analysis, some preliminary engineering and design, and more, in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids.
  • 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.