August 27, 2003--Nearly five years of construction has been rewarded with the on-time opening of a more than nine mile stretch of US-31 from Berrien Springs north to Napier Avenue.
"We have been waiting for this day for years, literally," said Southwest Region Engineer Bobbi Welke. "It has been a tremendous project for our staff to undertake from the start, and we are all very pleased and with the end result."
At a ribbon cutting ceremony at 2:30 p.m., MDOT staff, elected officials, and the Berrien County Riders (a local motorcycling group) formed the caravan that took the first official drive down the new northbound lanes of the freeway. After the festivities, crews will continue to work on the new southbound lanes, which are scheduled to be open by 6 p.m. today.
The new freeway begins in Berrien Springs and continues north 9.2 miles to Napier Avenue. The 1.9 mile stretch of Napier Avenue was widened to five lanes between US-31 and I-94 and will serve as the connector between the two freeways. The new freeway will serve motorists in Berrien County for many years to come, as well as decrease the trip time from Berrien Springs north to I-94 by 10-15 minutes.
"The entire project has gone smoothly and we are quite impressed with the work and quality of the final product," said Paul South, manager of MDOT's Transportation Service Center in Coloma. "We projected an open to traffic date of August of 2003, and here we are. It's a great accomplishment for all MDOT employees who were part of the process."
The freeway includes interchanges at Pipestone Road, Tabor Road, US-31/Berrien Springs/M-139 and at Napier Avenue. A total of 11 bridges were constructed.
This more than $97 million project continues Governor Jennifer M. Granholm's commitment to improve and preserve Michigan's transportation system.
Protect Michigan families: Please slow down in work zones.
- A message from MDOT and the Give 'em a Brake safety coalition