After 19 years U.S. 31 now links to I-94 in Berrien County

Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 7:31 PM EDT
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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - Better late than never.

The end is finally in sight for a road project that has been 19 years in the making.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was in town today for ribbon cutting ceremonies on the US-31 bypass north of Napier.

“The new construction will save drivers three minutes per trip by reducing time consuming mergers and resulting traffic. Consider that, with over 17,000 drivers from US-31 TO I-94 every day, that’s 35 days’ worth of time saved every single day.”

It wasn’t Congressman Fred Upton’s first ribbon cutting rodeo on the bypass.

That would have been in the late 1970′s.

“You know, I was just a young staffer cutting the ribbon on the state line with then Indiana Governor Otis Bowen.”

While a lot of progress has been made, the job still isn’t done.

Drivers have to get off the bypass and travel along Napier Avenue for a couple of miles to access I-94.

Plans for a final leg-direct connection of US-31 and I-94 sat on the drawing board for 19-years after the discovery of a butterfly that was on the endangered species list and in the path of progress.

“I was happy at the beginning. Sad that it all stopped. Frustrated that it sat for so long. Glad again it was opened up, and now I am just ecstatic that this is going to be done soon and opened up,” said Berrien County Commissioner Jim Martin.

The opening of the road to traffic won’t come until the first or second week of November, but today the public was invited to invited to do a test drive on foot or by bicycle and imagine the possibilities.

“I think you could see anything here. I think you could see an Amazon warehouse, couldn’t you? Through something like this. There’s a lot of property available. Great sites for economic development. I know we’ve got our economic developers here today. They’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said former Michigan lawmaker Al Pscholka.