Despite snowy weather and slippery travel conditions, the cafeteria at Constantine Middle School was a busy place Tuesday evening (January 11th) as the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) hosted an open house regarding the US-131 bypass project in Constantine.
The purpose of the open house was to receive public input on aesthetics for the proposed construction of a new, two-lane US-131 bypass around Constantine in St. Joseph County. MDOT representatives were on hand to answer questions and address concerns during the two-hour event from 6 to 8 p.m.
MDOT is currently designing a new, two-lane bypass of Constantine from Dickenson Road to Garber road, as well as an 870-foot bridge over the St. Joseph River west of the village. The project will create new intersections with Stears Road, Riverside Drive, North River Road, Millers Mill Road, Youngs Prairie Road, and Zerbe Road. It will also turn existing through-roads into cul-de-sacs: Stears Road, west of the bypass; and Birch Street and Millers Mill road, east of the bypass.
During an interview with the River Country Journal as the open house was getting underway, Jason Latham, Planning Manager with MDOT’s Southwest Region office in Kalamazoo, said, “Right now we’re in design. We are actually purchasing right-of-way as well, and we have a 2012 construction date set so in 2012 we’ll begin construction of the bypass. What we hope is that the $25 million project gets built in its entirety, but – depending on our funding, if we’re having the same revenue shortfalls that we had last year, this year and next year – that maybe we’ll only be able to build a piece of it.” (Jason_Latham_audio clip – :26)
The open house included maps showing the route of the bypass west of Constantine and displays showing three design concepts for the new bridge, including one utilizing a “corn stalk formliner,” reflecting Constantine’s status as the “Seed Corn Capital of the World.” Latham indicated that input regarding the options will be used to further refine the design. He said, “It’s kind of going to be like the one with the most popular feedback, that’s going to be the option we’re going to go with.”
To hear the entire interview with Jason Latham – conducted by Bruce Snook of the River Country Journal – click on the following link: Jason_Latham_interview (4:34 – 4.18 MB).