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Grand Haven City Council opposes U.S. 31 expansion

8:06 PM, Oct 21, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Michigan Department of Travel plans to add more traffic lanes to a stretch of U.S. 31. The project is five years away but Grand Haven city leaders formally oppose it.

The proposed changes would affect an eight block stretch of U.S. 31, reducing a median.

Grand Haven Mayor Geri McCaleb is against the elimination of the highway median. "It is green and pleasant. There are some flowering trees in the spring time."

McCaleb says the median helps pedestrians get across four lanes of traffic. "It is a safe landing spot before you head off to the other two lanes."

The MDOT project is scheduled for 2018, but city leaders believe now is the time to oppose it.

"Our community is divided and we do not want it more divided by widening the highway and taking out that grass," said McCaleb.

By eliminating the median, MDOT would have space to add more lanes to U.S. 31.

McCaleb believes MDOT should use money for the Grand Haven project on another road east of town. "Use it to finish the 231 bypass." When finished, M-231 is expected to take on some of the traffic that now must cross the Grand River in Grand Haven.

In a resolution, the Grand Haven City Council passed Monday night, city leaders stated formal their opposition to any changes to the median and pledged a willingness to work with MDOT on alternatives.

"We treasure our median and please reconsider. Reconsider: What other kinds of fixes, what other things can you do to make travel through Grand Haven more efficient?" said McCaleb.

The city council is asking MDOT to wait until two years after the bypass connecting I-96 and M-45 (Lake Michigan Drive) opens. They say that will give traffic engineers time to collect data and prove more lanes on U.S. 31 are needed in Grand Haven.

Despite the requests, MDOT says the project is still on.

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