River Country Journal
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January 27, 2013

US-131 Constantine bypass open house set for Monday evening at Constantine High School

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Written by: Bruce Snook
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The construction of the US-131 bypass around the Village of Constantine, a project slated to begin on February 4th and be completed in November, will be the focus of a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) open house Monday evening (January 28th) at Constantine High School.

MDOT representatives will be on hand to discuss the project with area residents, business owners and the media.

The open house will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at the high school, located at 1 Falcon Drive in Constantine.

For additional insights regarding the bypass project and expectations about its impact on Constantine, click on the following link to an MLive article by Tammy Mills:  U.S. 131 bypass will change life for many in Constantine.


  1. Follow the yellow brick Road

    Wow…with all the traffic in downtown Constantine to mandate this bypass, and this being such a safety issue, that musta been tough to take Mayor Weiss’s photo standing right smack dab in the middle of the highway in downtown for this article. Surely with all that truck traffic and such her life must have been in danger. I figured they would have taken her picture in front of her house on the highway with the truck vibrations causing ripples (in) her coy pond.

    The referenced article is more of the same propaganda. MDOT’s own studies said this bypass wasn’t necessary because the traffic studies said it wasn’t necessary and this was put on the back burner if this was left up to MDOT. South Bend tribune article from 2006 said this pretty clearly, and how a few important people that wanted this thing had their friends in Lansing make this happen in spite of the data.

    This will negatively impact our village more than what is reflected in the article. It will be a safety issue with an exit so close to the high school, middle school and our elementary school having to cross either at Riverside Drive or North River road at intersections with no lights and these same commercial trucks now going at full highway speed rather than 25-35 mph thru town. Think of all the school district over in Union area that have teenage drivers coming to school from that direction that will have to cross there. Think of a home football game letting out and everyone having to cross those intersections.

    All that traffic that would help support our restaurants and gas stations…well you can say bye bye to that source of revenue. Yep, it’ll change our lives alot that’s for sure. And for all those that said not in my lifetime, be careful what you wish for…because you are about to find out what happens when you get it.

  2. Follow the yellow brick Road

    The referenced article suggests the bypass will help out downtown. I challenge any investigative reporter to obtain a copy of the 1990 Charrette study that was chartered by the village of Constantine…this was a study by a panel of academics and experts on key do’s and don’t to help our village that provided some very useful recommendations.

    This study brought the village the concept that became the Riverview Park. It brought us the idea of signs and gateways to our community among other things…..

    The study was also VERY adamant about another topic….it was very specific in stating that the village should NOT build a bypass around our village because it would bring all future development to the land around bypass area thus creating a dead downtown or what they referred to as the donut effect with the empty hole in the middle being our downtown.

    Development is exactly what has happened to the bypass in TR, development off the bypass is what happened in Cadillac off Boon Road….and it’s what will happen here. I personally saw the US 131 bypass being built around Cadillac and Manton near my property there and the scale of that project is nearly 20x the scale of the Constantine bypass project in dollars (and that is dollars 15 years ago). Manton is more like Constantine than Cadillac and I saw it hurt hotels that closed up, saw it hurt a very nice restaurant, and saw it hurt a gas station because no one new it was there. I talked to the hotel owner before they sold it and moved to Florida…they said what MDOT told them vs how it all rolled out was two different food groups. I remembered sitting down at the restaurant in Manton that got hurt a couple years before that bypass came in. That restaurant was packed full except for a table with an older couple that invited my dad and I to sit and have breakfast with them. Nice genuine folks….I got to talking to them and asked them about how they thought the bypass would impact their town and they said almost word for word the rhetoric of our mayor and a previous mayor of ours as to how it was going to help their town. A few minutes later I realized I was having breakfast with the Mayor of Manton and his wife. It sure was a nice restaurant….it sure used to be alot busier…the nice thing is about the bypass is that its not so hard to get a seat for breakfast there any more.

    This article referenced by the RCJ suggests farmers will be displaced and hurt. I would ask any investigative reporter to do a good follow up to confirm or refute if in fact one land owner in particular (who since passed away) years ago donated a fair parcel of land to the State just to make sure the bypass came through it. Why? because tragic as this may be to some, I can assure you from first hand observations that such land around a highway has huge dollar potential for commercial and retail development, just as indicated in that Charrette study. Do you think they gave the land away for the new Menards store in TR off the bypass there? Or WalMart, or Home Depot? or Meijers?–getting the picture yet?

    Which brings me to a quote from village president Weiss to the referenced article….

    “Land is being taken out of crop production and I am sad to see that happening,” said Weiss, whose house is at the south end of town on Washington Street. “I have friends whose properties will be destroyed by the bypass, so there is a downside to this and it’s important to acknowledge that livelihoods are being hurt.”

    Roughly translated that means she has friends who will own property along the new highway, not to mention she will no longer have to contend with trucks along her property which won’t hurt her property value either.

    I’m not suggesting some folks would just like to leave their property as it is rather than give it up, but for some, there’s a pretty nice consolation prize after this project is done.

    If you want a little irony….some of the folks that helped write that Charrette study were at the village hall about 10 years later helping to convince our Council that a bypass was the way to go, when I pulled out the video tape of that Charrette presentation and report that was recorded by the late Dr. Marvin Vercler, one of the folks pitching the bypass that evening stated that he helped with that Charrette study earlier in his career.

    So MDOT data in their own studies in 2006 put this project on the back burner because the traffic studies didn’t support the need. 1990 Charrette study said this bypass will hurt the village….but to this day the talking heads are trying to tell you what a great day this is that this bypass is coming.

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