By SPIROS GALLOS
Capital News Service
LANSING– Berrien County residents will have a chance Oct. 30 to voice their concerns about the proposed U.S. 31 connection to the I-94 freeway.
The hearing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center. Under discussion will be the findings of the environmental impact statement recently released by the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Since March 2001, MDOT has been studying alternatives for connecting U.S. 31 to I-94. The plan, originally approved in 1981, would connect the highways at the current I-94/I-196 interchange, and would require costly bridge structures over the environmentally sensitive Blue Creek area.
At a previous public meeting in November 2001, MDOT presented four alternatives for the construction project. The four alternatives vary in scope and cost.
The first alternative, doing nothing, is the cheapest at $5 million. The money would be used to improve to Napier Avenue and Business Loop 94.
The second, costing $79.2 million, would follow the plan approved in 1981, extending U.S. 31 north from Napier to north of Highland Avenue, where it heads northeast and crosses Blue Creek Road. The route then turns north and connects to I-94 and provides a full freeway-to-freeway interchange at I-94 and I-196.
The third alternative, at a cost of $82 million, would extend U.S. 31 north at East Britain Avenue and connect with a “cloverleaf” interchange with BL-94 at Highland Avenue.
The fourth alternative is much like the third, but the “cloverleaf” would connect south of Highland Avenue and cost $110 million.
Alternative No. 2 is considered the preferred one and would provide direct connection from U.S. 31 to I-94 and BL-94.
According to the MDOT five-year road and bridge program, designing and research could be completed by the
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By SPIROS GALLOS