The 2012 construction will include the M-231 stretch from the new Grand River bridge north to Interstate 96, reconstruction and widening of M-104 from Java Drive east to I-96, reconstruction of the I-96 roadway and bridges from Apple Drive east to 112th Avenue, and improvements to the I-96/112th Avenue interchange.
MDOT Regional Transportation Planner Dennis Kent said some clearing and grading has been completed, and land acquisition is in progress “parcel by parcel.”
Kent said no portion of M-231 will be opened until the entire project is completed, which is likely several years from now.
Nunica residents Brian and Diane Heath said they attended Tuesday’s open house to learn how the I-96 interchange will be improved.
“It’s not very user-friendly right now,” Brian Heath said. “I’m glad to see the way this is laid out. I think it will be a huge improvement for everyone.”
Polkton Township resident Lauren Andrews said he also liked what he saw on the multiple display boards set up around the room.
“So far, what I’ve seen is good, but I have a little sense of dread because I’m going to be passing through here during construction,” Andrews said. “Today is the first time I’ve seen real good maps. They really helped clarify things.”
Crockery Township Supervisor Leon Stille said he was a state senator in the mid-1990s when talk of such a bypass highway first surfaced. The target area then was 148th Avenue — not 120th Avenue as it is now.
“This thing has been on the drawing map for so many years,” Stille said. “We’re within a year of seeing a shovel in the ground and reality has set in. I think 10 years from now, we’ll look back and see that this (bypass) has helped a lot.”
Stille said he was impressed with the way MDOT employees fielded questions.
“I’ve seen a lot of people get the answers they were looking for,” he said. “This was very well-staffed and very open. MDOT has been very cooperative and forthcoming.”
MDOT Transportation Service Manager Art Green said there will be another informational open house scheduled before or after Christmas.
“There will be some inconvenience with this project,” he said. “But when it’s all done, there will be a lot more convenience.”
Judi Gray-Ingalls of Crockery Township said she is excited about the convenience factor — when she can travel over the river and perhaps through the woods to visit family. She attended Tuesday’s open house with her parents.
“I think it’s exciting that there’s going to be a new route,” said Gray-Ingalls, who lives near Leonard Road and 124th Avenue. “It will be faster access for me to get to family on the other side of the river. I was concerned about the highway going over a country setting that’s been this way for generations, but I think it will be a good thing.”