Major road construction in East Lansing may cause years of campus traffic

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A 'Utility Work Ahead sign posted on a smaller East Lansing Street.

LANSING, Mich.—A new road construction project has been under work and officially unveiled to the Greater Lansing area, with major changes to be made to US-127 and Interstate 496 from early 2024 to late 2025.

These two roads are the main roads that run along the East Lansing-Lansing border and include some of the most common access points to get into both the East Lansing area and Michigan State University. This includes two exits that are frequently used to get to both Trowbridge and Dunckel roads, which run straight to Michigan State.

“It will clearly impede traffic during high-use times. But, based on standard operating procedures, traffic will move relatively quickly through the area,” said East Lansing City Councilmember Mark Meadows. He believes there are many positives to the multi-year project and that the benefits of the construction will make the duration worth it.

“The stretch of improvements is relatively short compared to others which have been undertaken,” he added, referring to the seemingly constant construction along Michigan Avenue and other parts of the Lansing area.

Richard Bergesen

Construction Workers head to work with their equipment.

Fellow East Lansing City Councilmember Dana Watson shares a similar sentiment surrounding the project, explaining, “I think the construction is definitely worth it. Just the installation of the sound wall along the eastern part of the Red Cedar neighborhood makes it worth it.” 

The sound wall is one of the parts of the project that the Michigan Department of Transportation has added, including the upgrading of drains and signs, while also rebuilding bridges along the area.

“There will be some pretty long lines of traffic on game days. Probably not much impact otherwise,” Watson continued, “The reaction has primarily been positive.”

However, among members of the East Lansing and MSU communities, the reception is mixed, with some believing the overall future impact of the project will make up for its duration, while others believe the amount of traffic and road confusion that may be caused is a big issue.

A common “share the road” sign next to where construction is taking place.

“While there are many potential benefits to the project, I just don’t see how this will help when there will be years of chaos on the roads,” said East Lansing resident Anne Smith, who spoke at the council meeting about her frustrations with the timeframe of the project. She has lived in the East Lansing area for more than a decade and has seen the roads being worked on for years. “It just feels like there is already so much construction going on around the MSU area, and now it will just get even worse.”

Smith is one of the many residents in the area who are against the idea of a long-term project, even with the many positive changes that are going to be made. MDOT has presented a plan that was met with little criticism from the local government but may be met with a lot more from residents of the area, as announcements will take place at the upcoming meetings.

As the multi-year construction begins, the full impact of the project may not be known for awhile.

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