U.S. 31 project on the map and the calendar

By: Mark Petesron Email
By: Mark Petesron Email

Indiana’s Department of Transportation now knows just where and when construction will begin on a realigned U.S. 31 between South Bend and Plymouth.

The 418-million dollar project is designed to bring the 20-mile stretch of roadway up to interstate standards.

Ground will be broken in 2008, with the construction of two bridges in Marshall County. Work on the road bed is slated to begin in 2009 on the six mile stretch that runs from Lakeville to LaPaz.

“We’re actually seeing the phase in part of this construction project for the new 31, for me I’m glad they’re starting with the Lakeville area, the portion between U.S. 6 and S.R. 4,” said Indiana Representative Jackie Walorski. She says that stretch has one of the highest concentrations of truck traffic.

There's one very “dirty” reason why construction will start in the middle of the project, and work toward both ends.

The strategy is being dictated by soil sample results according to Jonathan Wallace of INDOT: “There’s a bit of peat or muck in that area. In order to get the proper compaction rates so our road actually stands up to the test of time, we need to allow for a year or so for settlement.”

Landowners who live in the phase one portion of the project should see land acquisition start in about three months.

By contrast, Jeffrey Dierbeck will have to wait until 2013.
Dierbeck will lose his primary residence, and an investment property to the road project.

Since his home is located on the northern portion of the project, between Kern road and the U.S. 20 Bypass, he’s last on the state “buy out” list.

Dierbeck takes it all in stride: “I bought my homestead years ago, a family homestead, with the intent of staying there and being hauled away in a stretcher,” he said, “the longer I can stay there, the better off I am.”

But not everyone in the Phase Four area is as patient.

“Its not happening here, I'm stuck in limbo for what five years? Is that fair?,” questioned Ken Ray.

Ray owns a commercial property on the business strip along U.S. 31, south of the U.S. 20 Bypass. He says he has been unable to lease the building for a year, and he blames the pending road project.

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