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US-131 Planning & Environmental Linkages Study

US-131 Hall North
Department of Transportation

US-131 Planning & Environmental Linkages 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 environmental review process, such as environmental assessments or environmental impact statements. 

MDOT has identified the segment of US-131 between M-11 (28th Street) in Wyoming and Wealthy Street 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, and US-131 north of I-96, were also identified as priorities earlier in this process. The US-131/100th Street interchange improvement project was completed in fall 2020 and operational improvements for US-131 north of I-96 are expected to start in 2026/2027.

The second phase of public involvement for the US-131 PEL study closed April 7, 2022. MDOT will review the results from the surveys and develop a summary or report. This will be used for the third phase of the study.

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.

Contact

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

Phone: 616-451-3091
Toll-Free: 866-815-MDOT (6368)

US-131 and I-96 PEL Study Comments Form

Accommodations

Accommodations can be made for persons who require mobility, visual, hearing, written or other assistance for participation. Requests should be made at least five days prior to the meeting date. Reasonable efforts will be made to provide the requested accommodation or an effective alternative, but accommodations may not be guaranteed.

Contact Orlando Curry at 517-241-7462 or complete Form 2658 for ASL located on the Title VI webpage

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.

MDOT began a PEL study, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, in approximately 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 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 (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.

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 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 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.