Update – US-131 Constantine bypass
December 1, 2009 by WLKM
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is seeking public comment on its draft 2010-2014 Five-Year Transportation Program. Comments should be submitted by e-mail before Friday, December 11th.
The Five-Year Transportation Program, a continuous, interactive dialogue with the department’s customers and stakeholders, has become the anchor of MDOT’s project development and delivery systems. Each year, a new fifth year is added and program/project adjustments are made to the previous four years.
The proposed US-131 by-pass of Constantine is mentioned in the program, but is “grayed out,” meaning it is among a number of “projects that may be delayed due to the reduced highway investment strategy” related to funding issues facing the State of Michigan.
The Constantine bypass reference appears under “Capacity Improvement and New Roads” information for MDOT’s Southwest Region. The entry says, “This project includes a new two-lane by-pass of the Village of Constantine from just north of Dickinson Road to south of Garber Road and truck climbing lanes on existing US-131 between Drummond Road and Gleason Road. The initial construction of this project will be between Dickinson Road and Quarterline Road. Design and right-of-way acquisition are underway and construction is scheduled for 2012. Subsequent construction phases will be programmed as funding becomes available.”
The Constantine bypass and truck climbing lanes were on the on the list of “New Road/Capacity Improvement Project Delays” announced by MDOT in early June. Both had been assigned 2012 start dates in MDOT’s 2009-2013 five-year program.
At the time of the announcement, the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA) reported that MDOT had been forced to cancel more than 137 road and bridge projects – totaling $740 million – due to the state’s inability to match available federal dollars.
During an interview on Monday (November 30th), Nick Schirripa, communications rep with MDOT’s Southwest Region office in Kalamazoo, said, “Obviously, the state is facing some funding issues. We’re calling it a funding crisis.” He also noted the “grayed out” projects in the plan, including the one involving the Constantine bypass.
Schirripa said, “We’re really not sure which direction it’s going to go. It could go one of two directions, basically. Either we find a way to increase the revenue we’re getting enough to match the federal funding and get our full federal complement of funding, or we don’t in which case our program statewide is drastically reduced. With that said, that will impact the scheduling of the US-131 Constantine bypass.”
Schirripa said the Constantine bypass “has already been pushed back a touch,” but explained that, “It’s basically designed. They’re doing some tweaking to the design. It’s not quite final, but close enough, so it’s ready to go once we have the funding. Funding is obviously the big piece of it.”
Schirripa said there’s still some concern about how the “near final design impacts the community so that is still being considered.” He also said there’s some concern about traffic volume, “whether or not the traffic volume justifies the bypass, so we’re still looking into some of those points.”
Schirripa said MDOT is “putting the plans together” for the bypass and added, “It’s better to be prepared, I think, and that’s kind of where we are.”
Regarding the current comment period, Schirripa said, “We’re really encouraging folks who have an interest to take a look at that plan, digest it, kind understand what it means for them, and then share their thoughts. The more thoughts we can get, the more finely tuned the five-year plan will be. We certainly rely on Michigan motorists to give us some feedback, let us know how we’re doing, what we need to do.”
Comments should be e-mailed to MDOT-Five-Year-Program@michigan.gov before Friday, December 11th.
The draft 2010-2014 Five-Year Transportation Program is available on the MDOT Web site at www.michigan.gov/mdot5yearplan.