New U.S. 31 project underway

by Dustin Grove (grove@wsbt.com)

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Officials broke ground on the new U.S. 31 in Lakeville

Officials broke ground on the new U.S. 31 in Lakeville on Wednesday, September 17, 2008. (WSBT photo)

By Beth Boehne

LAKEVILLE — Wednesday marked the beginning of bringing an easier, less congested drive from South Bend to Indianapolis.

Officials broke ground Wednesday morning on the new U.S. 31 in Lakeville. The ceremony kicked off a six year, $418 million project funded by the Toll Road lease. Work is slated to begin this fall, creating a new U.S. 31 between South Bend and Plymouth.

Crews will begin grading work in the area between U.S. 6 and State Road 4. Actual construction on the roadway will begin in 2010.

The new U.S. 31 will eventually reconnect with the existing 31 at Kern Road. This new freeway will have few interchanges — no stoplights, no railroad crossings, no driveways to interrupt the flow of traffic.

Gov. Daniels touted the project as a way to attract new investment to the area and to create jobs.

One area family affected by the project will lose nearly seven acres of farmland.

“You're apprehensive about the highway but I feel like it’s a necessity that the South Bend area needs to move forward," said Deanna Galloway. “We need jobs. We need industry up our way. So hopefully this will bring it to it.”

Gov. Daniels added, “You have to think about this in the big picture. Not just safety and convenience for motorists. Of course, that's key, but the jobs that will come with it. Thousands when we build it. Thousands more when it's there.”

Other freeway-style segments of U.S. 31 are planned for Kokomo and Hamilton County just north of Indianapolis. The project is expected to be finished by 2015.

Thursday, Sep 18 at 9:45 PM Hey 2:04 Indy wrote ...

I'll agree with everything you said, although the english was a little battered, if you wound answer 1 question for me. IF, an OUT OF COUNTRY interest can MAKE a profit from the toll road, then why didn't we keep it and vote for people who would do exactly what has been done now? The state's taking a screwin but as they say in the car bizz, "If you can't screw your family, who can you screw?

Thursday, Sep 18 at 4:53 PM Joe wrote ...

Just what we need, another road that will be full of pot holes that the state can't keep up with. I can't wait to hit them at 70 mph just like on the 20 by-pass around South Bend.

Thursday, Sep 18 at 4:52 PM To Rush wrote ...

You got something against kittens? Pave it with kittens? Your sick dude.

Thursday, Sep 18 at 10:52 AM Rush wrote ...

All you liberal whiners make me sick, just sick! You're all upset because we finally have a governor who's actually doing things and he's a Republican. Reworking 31 has been talked about for at least 15 years, but then that's all you liberals are good at, talking. And taxing hard working Americans and giving the money to illegal immigrants. I hope they pave the bypass with kittens just to make you mad.

Thursday, Sep 18 at 10:47 AM Hard worker wrote ...

Why oh why do these so called officials insist on taking part in these ground breaking ceremonies? All they ever do is dig one shovelful and then grin like a kid that went number 2 like a big boy. They NEVER EVER finish what they start. If they dont plan on digging all the way to the other end dont even bother starting. Typical, just leave it to us blue collar guys who you wont even give the time of day to.

Thursday, Sep 18 at 8:58 AM reply to 3:20 wake up wrote ...

$50 million profit. What are you smoking? The toll road has been losing money for years and in all the years the state ran it, it wouldn't come close to a $50 million profit. That is a typical demo. talking. By the way, our former democrat governor's were the one's taking money from social security along with the teacher retirement fund. Not this governor.

Thursday, Sep 18 at 8:29 AM Myrt wrote ...

The current 31 around Kokomo was INTENDED to be a by-pass around the city. Then Kokomo chose to develop along the road which defeated the purpose of the by-pass. I hope they have incorporated some type of guarantee that this won't happen along the new route!!!

Thursday, Sep 18 at 12:44 AM lakeville wrote ...

you might want to check your oxygen tank there, "Big L" i think it's empty.

Thursday, Sep 18 at 12:23 AM lakeville wrote ...

Lakeville has become nothing but a bunch of whiny granger wannabe's. Nobody there is going to miss the business traffic, heck most of them want those pesky small town businesses gone so they can get their overpriced conceited chain stores. the place blows, and i'm glad i won't have to drive through it any more. i do wish they would have bypassed that gloryhole called kokomo first, though.

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 9:55 PM Big L wrote ...

The slow down problem is getting around Kokomo. Mitch seems to concentrate more on the south end of the state. A fast road with no stop lights will lead to speeders and wrecks. Why can't they improve the existing U.S.31 and put in a center turn lane and where those turns are, instill some speed bumps and big slower speed limit signs? Everybody is in such a hurry.

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 9:52 PM Carla from Lakeville wrote ...

My man Mitch has my vote again this fall. cant wait to vote.

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 9:23 PM Mr. Logical wrote ...

Maple Rd: Mitch could have given the 418 million dollars to social programs like our Democrat neighbors in Michigan. Michigan is proof that compensating laziness and ignoring the build up of infrastructure results with the highest unemployment in the nation of 8.9%. In fact, every state that surrounds Indiana has higher unemployment. My vote is for Mitch Daniels!

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 8:57 PM GENE wrote ...

I think that a bypass around Kokomo would have been sufficient. What do i need to go 70 mph between South bend for?

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 8:55 PM Dudley wrote ...

Like Mitch or not, he has stuck to his campaign promises. As a whole, the citizens of the great state of Indiana are better for it. The toll road and disciplined fiscal policy has provided the needed boost to the state's economy, just as planned. Mitch has my vote!

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 8:21 PM Straight Shooter wrote ...

It is amazing to see how political parties divide us and how blind people become. To go from a deficit to a surplus in just 4 years? Good or bad? Upkeep on a road that few Hoosiers use? Good or Bad. Less government (they can't get it right because of politics)is the best recipe. If that is Republican thinking then so be it, but when is the Government going to start doing the right thing? Let me sit on my behind and let somebody pay me to do nothing. NOT!

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 6:39 PM Maple Rd Resident wrote ...

I'm sure there is better things to do then spend 418 million dollars on a highway just to save some time. Ridiculous

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 6:29 PM CJ wrote ...

The new 31 is bad for LaPaz and Lakeville because it diverts customers, but it's also good because some drivers do NOT slow down when driving through these small towns. I do think the new 31 will reduce the number of accidents between the bypass and state road 4; that's a scary stretch of road. I usually vote democrat and probably will vote for Jill, but I will give Mitch some credit for at least trying to make some changes in Indiana. I do wish the whole state was in one time zone, however.

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 6:28 PM another country dumbkin wrote ...

People in this "little" city--get out more! Develop old 31 NORTH of Lakeville to get folks to stop when en route to either Potato Creek St Park, or to SB for ND Games. Perhaps we should look to Nashville, IN as a guide. It not only thrives but is a wonderful IN tourist destination. Visitors include those who come to IU for graduations or games. Lkvl would shine then! Stop the whining, then, ditch small mindedness and pessimism. Be proactive and grab your future before it passes you by!

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 6:17 PM Tim Teamster wrote ...

31 from South Bend to Lakeville is the most dangerous road in Michiana. This is a good plan,unless you can put a price on the lives lost!

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 6:11 PM James wrote ...

Games or not the toll road was still in debt after nearly 50 years of collecting tolls. At least we can see where the money from Major Moves is going.

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 6:04 PM My man Mitch wrote ...

A few of you DO see that Mitch Daniels has done well for our state. You don't have to like his methods to appreciate the fact he has gotten results. Our state has a budget surplus, from a budget deficit 4 years ago. He didn't raid the toll road fund, the Dems did. Our future up here is NOT in unskilled labor and large, unfarmed acres of land. It's in technology and skilled labor, and when there's new roads there will be new business. if there was a budget deficit, you'd be complaining then too!

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 5:42 PM Anonymous wrote ...

they should of pushed Gov. Daniels in the hole when they were digging like in old italy

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 3:49 PM Lakeville Resident wrote ...

Leasing our toll road to a foreign country and destroying farm ground for a senseless road. NOT MY MAN MITCH!!!! Take the farmers for granted now and one day we'll all be hungry and dependent on a foreign country for our food!

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 3:39 PM Sue wrote ...

I hope Mitch and his yes woman Jackie Walorski are around to help the good people of Lakeville when it becomes a ghost town. Thanks Mitch and Jackie.

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 3:20 PM Wake Up wrote ...

The Toll Road Profitted $50 million per year. It was accounting games and "fund raiders;" like the raid of Social Security funds, that made the Toll Road appear broke. Mitch stole, then sold our heritage, freedom, and future; like a typical heartless greedy corporate managers who are only concerned with their term, not the community or the future.

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 3:11 PM Hoorah! wrote ...

A super highway (70 MPH!) between Plymouth and South Bend! YES!! I can't stand driving that old archaic route 31. Bumps, chuckholes, traffic lights! Idiots doing 45 in the left lane. Good Old Mitch, brought us back from the brink and building REAL roads & a 350 million state surplus! My Man? You BET!!!!

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 3:05 PM chester wrote ...

All these people crying about Mitch. I finally see someone who is competent in office and actually doing something. You may not agree with everything but he does have leadership and is NOT a bureaucrat. I contracted with the prior administrations and saw the major incompetence. They spent millions of dollars for a computer software system that never materialized! Corrupt democrats they were. Mitch gets my vote because of the leadership and ability to get things done.

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 2:50 PM Joshua wrote ...

HAHA i thought the money did come from the Tooth Fairy! I am so confused now!!

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 2:12 PM Glad wrote ...

It is about time to improve the drive time to Indy. I sure hope they have a way to get through Kokomo without having stop lights. An elevated expressway would be great. If people still want to eat they will just detour onto "old" 31 and stop to eat. There isn't that many mom and pops left anyway. The locals will keep them in business.

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 2:04 PM Independant voter wrote ...

Such an idiot. Where do you think that the money for the 31 around your area and Kokomo is coming from. The Tooth Fairy. It is from the lease money of the Toll Road. That was the smartest thing Mitch did. Why, because the state was losing money on the toll road. I bet you are one of the dumb demos that won't vote for his mother if she was running as a Repulican.

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 2:04 PM Sammi wrote ...

Do you know how many small towns and businesses have dried up since the original 31 by-pass went in? I guess they can get new jobs with the fast food joints that will pop up along that stretch.

Wednesday, Sep 17 at 1:46 PM Lakeville resident wrote ...

All that money to go around Lakeville and Lapaz! What a joke!! Vote for Jill and ditch Mitch before he leases the whole state out!!

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