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