"I'm curious what the end-result will look like and how much is spent on studies over the past 25 years," he said. "By the time the bypass is a reality, I'm afraid I can no longer drive."
First, a little history.
Work to build U.S. 31 began in 1948. The highway as we know it, for the most part, was completed in the late 1950s.
As the population grew and traffic on the highway increased, the Michigan Department of Transportation decided alternative routes should be explored. In 1990, the department "prepared a preliminary assessment of conditions within the study area. This report recommended further study of several alternatives for the existing U.S. 31 alignment, and identified the possibility of an alternate bypass alignment to relieve traffic congestion on existing U.S. 31." (michiganhighways.org)
A bypass route was announced in 1998. At the time, the cost was estimated at nearly $600 million, which included improvements to the existing U.S. 31.
Funding dried up in the ensuing years, and the plan was scaled back to a two-lane highway (M-231) to run from M-45 in Robinson Township north along 120th Avenue to connect with M-104 near Nunica and Interstate 96. The bridge (which will be the third Grand River crossing in Ottawa County) is being constructed.
So, to answer Jerry's question:
Art Green, manager of MDOT's Transportation Service Center in Muskegon, said the total for everything — from prep work and interchanges, right down to traffic signal devices — will come in at about $300 million.
Green said the entire project in connecting M-104 to M-45 — north side work, bridge and south side work — is expected to be completed in 2015, provided federal and state funds come through as anticipated. I hope you're still driving in three years, Jerry!
Thanks to michiganhighways.org for the background information. Want to read more about the history of U.S. 31 and the bypass? Click here.