The Grand Rapids Press reports that construction of M-231 in Ottawa County is about to begin.
Also known as the M-231 bypass, it will include a 3,700-foot-long bridge over the Grand River that will connect M-45 (Lake Michigan Drive) to the interchange at I-96 and M-104 near Nunica. It also will involve putting additional lanes on M-104 near I-96 and additional ramps at I-96 and 112th Avenue and, later, the widening of U.S. 31 in parts of Holland and Grand Haven.
There's been talk about bypassing US-31 out of Holland and Grand Haven for forty years. A full freeway bypass was around $170 million -- this project will run a hundred million less.
Sure, getting the traffic out of the cities sounds nice, but the real issue is the number of crossings over the Grand River. There's US-31 in Grand Haven and 68th Avenue due north out of Allendale. The problem? The US-31 bridge is a lift bridge to allow sailboats out to Lake Michigan. And sometimes the bridge gets stuck. The detour from M-45 to 68th Avenue to I-96 -- is nearly forty miles. Crossing on the 120th Avenue corridor will cut that in half.
18 Years Ago
About two weeks after we moved into our new house, word came around that MDOT was having a public meeting to discuss three bypass options. These were full-bore freeway proposals. One was right around Grand Haven, one at 120th Avenue and one at 84th Avenue. The last one would've taken out our brand new house. Yikes!
Still, the 84th Avenue corridor was the lowest probability option, because it required the longest road swinging down to I-196 outside Holland and was so far east it would only would have cut ten miles off the forty mile detour. But for a while there was a nervous sense of impending doom. (grin)