Robinson Township resident Mark Bohn said the Michigan Department of Transportation has decided to buy the property from him instead of going through the eminent domain process of taking only the portions of it necessary for the highway project.
“We were just floored that it happened,” Bohn said. “God is great.”
Bohn said the property sale occurred after he decided to take his complaint directly to Gov. Rick Snyder.
“I wrote to the governor and told him MDOT was being overzealous with their eminent domain,” Bohn said.
Bohn told the governor that the transportation department was going to take portions of his Robinson Township property and, in return, he would have been left with only about 3 acres and a freeway in his backyard.
“About two weeks later, I got an e-mail from the governor’s office,” Bohn said.
Bohn said that response prompted a visit from a Department of Transportation associate from Lansing to assess the situation.
“He was very cordial and very nice,” Bohn said. “He said, ‘If I were you, I wouldn’t want to live here either.’”
After meeting with lawyers, working out an agreement and going over compensation details, Mark and Mary Bohn and the state transportation agency reached an agreement.
“We closed (Dec. 4) — and right now, we’re sitting in MDOT’s house,” Bohn said. “We’re just looking for a new place to live.”
The Bohns must move out by June 15, according to the deal. They plan to stay in the area.
“We’re debating whether to start all over, like we did here, or move closer to the city and downsize,” Bohn said. “It still needs my garden.”
State officials say the M-231 project is well under way and other property acquisitions are progressing.
“We’ve acquired about 80 percent of the property, with about 20 percent in negotiation,” Department of Transportation spokesman John Richard said.
M-231 will stretches seven miles from M-45 in Robinson Township north to the I-96/M-104/112th Avenue interchange in Crockery Township. A new bridge over the Grand River, M-104 improvements near the M-231 intersection, a new I-96 interchange at M-231, and new ramps at the I-96/112th Avenue interchange are included in the project.
“We built the bridge last year over North Cedar Drive, so the project has already begun,” Richard said, noting that the 112th Avenue bridge over I-96 and M-104 was also improved in 2012.
Crews are now moving on to the next phase, where 1.4 miles of M-231 will be constructed. That includes two new bridges to carry M-231 over the Grand River and Little Robinson Creek.
Richard said all of the property has been acquired that will allow the project from Little Robinson Creek north to commence.
The bridge over the Grand River will be the sixth-longest public bridge in Michigan, measuring approximately 3,700 feet long and 47 feet high. It will be just the fourth Grand River crossing in Ottawa County. Richard said it will cost about $40 million to build.
The bridge over Little Robinson Creek will be 548 feet long and approximately 30 feet above the water, and cost $5.5 million to build.
The total cost of the M-231 project is $200 million. Richard said they estimate the new highway will be completed and open by 2016, but the schedule depends on available funding.