See future of transportation through 31 test drive

Today provided a peek at the “future” of transportation in Michiana.

The $221 million reconstruction of U.S. 31 south is still years from being completed, but today News Center 16 participated in a test drive on a portion of the roadway that is done.

The rebuilt stretch between South Bend and Plymouth will be 20 miles long. So far, an 11 mile stretch has been completed from Roosevelt on the north to Pierce on the South.

The roadway features two southbound lanes and two northbound lanes with shoulders. The lanes are separated by a wide grass median.

“Well, we’ve got 11 miles of pavement done here out, most of it’s out in rural areas so a lot of people haven’t seen that, all these roads done, so they see a story like this and they go, ‘I had no clue,’” said INDOT Spokesman Matt Deitchley.

Today Deitchley let News Center 16 sit in on a test drive along the stretch that was way ‘ahead of its time.’
“End of 2014 is the opening for the whole stretch along this area, so that’s the big date everybody is kind of looking at.”

Since 2008, crews have quietly been working on the rural, remote section of the roadway in southern St. Joseph County and northern Marshall County.

Not only is it somewhat surprising to see how much progress has been made, it’s surprising to see what the road itself is ‘made of.’

“You know, both asphalt and concrete have their own plusses and minuses,” said Deitchley.

The new U.S. 31 has a ‘dark side.’ The stretch to the south is made entirely of asphalt, while the northern section is made of concrete.

Using both is designed to create competition among paving contractors that will hold down costs.

The U.S. 31 realignment project between South Bend and Plymouth is now heading into the home stretch with the final contracts to be carried out in 2013.

“Well it’s pretty spectacular from where we started, to where we are today,” said INDOT Supervisor Mike Zeiger. “With my career, I started 40 years ago helping build 31 around Plymouth, Rochester, and now I’m getting to the end of my career, and I now get to build the north part of 31.”

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