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US-31 Rebuilding Project - Berrien County
Start: Summer 2020 End: November 2022
Investment: $122.5 million
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will be completing the US-31 limited-access freeway connection from Napier Avenue north to I-94 in Berrien County.
The US-31 freeway project has been in development for more than 40 years. The objective has been to provide a 30-mile US-31 freeway connection from the I-80/90 toll road in Indiana to I-94 and US-31/I-196 in Michigan. Construction of the US-31 freeway as approved in a 1981 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that has been ongoing and was completed up to Napier Avenue in 2003.
Since approval of the 1981 FEIS, the Blue Creek Fen (crossed by the original alignment north of Napier Avenue) has been identified as a unique resource. The fen provides habitat to many unique species, including the Mitchell's satyr butterfly that was listed as a federally endangered species subsequent to the 1981 FEIS.
In 2002, a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) was prepared as an update to the 1981 FEIS for approximately 4 miles of the approved US-31 freeway alignment between Napier Avenue and I-94. MDOT concluded that there was a potential for significant reductions in construction costs and environmental impacts if the final segment of the freeway was realigned to avoid the Blue Creek Fen. As a result, the 2002 DSEIS compared the costs and impacts of alternatives that avoided the Blue Creek Fen to those of a no-build alternative and the alignment approved in the 1981 FEIS. Analysis of the DSEIS alternatives led to the identification of a preferred alternative that provides a western connection of the US-31 freeway to I-94 south of the existing I-94/I-94 Business Loop (BL) interchange at Benton Harbor. The Record of Decision (ROD) was signed on Aug. 31, 2004.
What Is Being Done?
Starting in 2020, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will make improvements to I-94, US-31, I-94 BL in Berrien County.
2020 construction includes:
- Reconstructing I-94 BL (Main Street) from Urbandale Avenue to Euclid Avenue, and converting the four-lane divided highway into three lanes from Urbandale Avenue to Crystal Avenue, and two lanes from Crystal Avenue to I-94.
- Construction of a roundabout at I-94 and Crystal Avenue.
- Construction of a new Britain Avenue bridge over US-31.
- I-94 crossover construction and shoulder widening in preparation for 2021 construction.
2021 construction tentatively includes:
- Reconstructing westbound I-94.
- Construction of cul-de-sacs on Empire Avenue on each side of US-31.
- Construction of cul-de-sacs on Highland Avenue on each side of I-94.
- Territorial Road bridge replacement over I-94.
- Benton Center Road bridge construction over US-31 and bridge improvements over westbound I-94.
- Construction of the US-31/I-94 BL interchange.
2022 construction tentatively includes:
- Reconstructing eastbound I-94.
- Construction of the US-31 segment and the connection at the I-94 BL interchange.
- Benton Center Road bridge improvements over eastbound I-94.
- Benton Center Road bridge construction over US-31.
- Reconstruction of the I-196 interchange.
How Traffic Will Be Affected
Construction will take place in stages to minimize the disruption to motorists and residents.
- On I-94, two lanes will be maintained in each direction on one side of the freeway separated by a temporary concrete barrier.
- Highland Avenue will be closed over I-94.
- Construction of I-196/US-31 interchange ramps will be staged to maintain access.
- The Territorial Road bridge will be closed with traffic detoured during construction of the bridge.
Details will be available closer to the start of construction.