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February 4, 2013

US-131 Constantine bypass work begins

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Written by: Bruce Snook
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The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced in January that construction of the US-131 Constantine bypass would begin on Monday (February 4th) and – in keeping with that announcement – work was underway Monday along Riverside Drive, just south of the Constantine village limits.  That’s the area where a new, 870-foot bridge over the St. Joseph River will be constructed as a major component of the $18 million project.

Initial work toward construction of the US-131 Constantine bypass was underway Monday along Riverside Drive, just south of the village limits, the area where an 870-foot bridge over the St. Joseph River will be built. (Click on photo to enlarge)

The work underway on Monday is consistent with the indications from Jon Sytsma, cost & scheduling engineer with MDOT, in the course of a River Country Journal interview during the open house held by MDOT at Constantine High School on January 28th.  (Jon Sytsma audio clip – :14)


The bypass around the Village of Constantine will span nearly five miles from Garber Road to Dickinson Road.

This picture shows a closer view of the work underway Monday along Riverside Drive. (Click on photo to enlarge)

Contractors DJ McQuestion & Sons and Rieth-Riley will lead the project which is slated for completion in November of this year.

For additional information about the bypass project – including a map showing the route – click on the following link:  US-131 Constantine Bypass in St. Joseph County.


  1. Just another bridge to no where...

    I sure can’t wait until this project is done. Trucks will be able to get to those half dozen stop lights in TR 5 minutes to the north of us so much faster now. And then there’s two lights between TR and Schoolcraft after that, and then the two lights between Schoolcraft and the REAL expressway after that. $1.8 billion the state is in debt for road repairs now, a backlog of 11 yrs of bridges in need of repair and we have $18 million for this? Yep, I sure can’t wait–I’m so excited that I sure hope they put a rest area between here and TR just so I don’t pee my pants from all the excitement—ooh doggy.

  2. Just another bridge to no where...

    …..and I think we should get used to news photos of that intersection because it’ll be the first of many to come over the years.

    If one could turn the camera angle just a few degrees down Riverside drive from where the photos above are taken, one would be able to see Falcon Drive–the major ingress/egress road to our high school/middle school. If you drive down just a little more there will be Riverside Elementary school. So crossing this bypass here will be parents dropping the kids off to school, teenage drivers heading to school, buses dropping kids off at both schools. Now let’s picture the folks running late to get to work crossing there also in the morning around the same timeframe. This will be a typical morning and a typical afternoon when school lets out and factories first shift is over.

    What will we have there for safety…about as much as one can possibly ask for without making in an overpass (because overpasses cost lots of $$$$ and you would have to displace a few homes if you put one there with exits.) There will be deceleration lanes there for people to make left turns and right turns from the highway as well as folks trying to cross the highway as well as a flashing caution and stop light (just like the one at the M-60/US 131 crossing on the south side of TR–which just happens to be another intersection of a US 131 bypass project from decades ago that gives us plenty of news photos to this day).

    So I see alot of people crossing while trying to see past cars waiting to make their turns….what else will we have there.

    Now picture that Riverside Drive intersection again….now picture it with all these large commercial trucks going full highways speed down this highway leading to or coming from the bridge over the St. Joe (and it gets pretty foggy at times being so close to the river there).

    It doesn’t take a psychic to predict that intersection will be the source of plenty of less than wonderful news stories for decades to come, along with plenty of photos to go with it–albeit alot less pleasant than the one in the article above.

    But this bypass is all about safety for us……….or so the story goes.

  3. accandra

    I was in a local restaurant & overheard a cell phone conversation where the man on the phone explained that MDOT has to start work on the new bridge when they are because they have a limited number of days/weeks before the DNR would stop construction because they could not disturb the fish in the river. Not the farmers, not the township homeowners or the village residents and taxpayers, but the fish…viva le government!

  4. That's Pure Michigan

    You probably overheard an accurate statement. I don’t think this kinda thing would have been a problem years ago when the Mayor that started all the push for this bypass was in office (you know the one–with the pretty house on the highway that was tired of having those darn passing semi’s rattling the fine china in the cabinet).

    Why would this have been a non issue back then? Because his “friend” in Lansing that helped get the stoplight put in town (when MDOT said it was a bad idea), well that same friend was on the MDEQ/DNR appropriations committee in Lansing (look it up if you don’t believe me).

    And besides, that same mayor had no problems violating a MDEQ permit for dredging the river in building a boat landing in town…. He said in front of a packed village hall that he decided to take a bold step and authorized the additional dredging of the St. Joe River since the equipment was just sitting there and it needed to be done, thus violating MDEQ permit and violating spending authority limits set by local law. And what happened in all of that? The MDEQ sent a letter that was a slap on the hand that said, “please stop doing that” which is kinda moot when the project was already completed. And the contractor that did all the dredging later sent an invoice that was way under the contractor’s estimate that was approved by the mayor (that was above his spending authority), and that amount invoiced came in just under the spending authority limit….the first time in history where I have ever seen a contractor’s actual price come in way under an estimate. I mean what are the odds.

    If you want to be really offended….go ask MDOT how much was spent on the environmental impact study of building the bypass. Except I wonder if they considered the smoke and crap generated from the fire I drove past this morning’s bridge construction site from all the stumps and brush they were burning with flames shooting about 25-30 ft in the air. Details, details….and me without my marshmallows and roasting sticks for some s’mores.

    But in the grand scheme of all of this, its really almost laughable that the bridge will hurt the fish when you consider all the foam that goes floating down by the downtown now from all the “stuff” that is in the river now…it looks like a cappuccino. I mean c’mon–everyone knows the fish in that stretch of river probably have 3 eyes, speak 4 languages already…..I’m sure the bridge construction will hurt the fish’s ears for sure.

  5. Does a Coy Pond look like Sushi Bar to a Blue Heron?

    Actually, I think you two are both way off….and I think maybe Accandra may have misunderstood the conversation that was overheard.

    I think what the person on the phone was trying to say was that the bridge construction needs to get done right away because it was disturbing the fish. But I don’t think it’s the fish in the river they were referring to that’s creating the sense of urgency. Rather, I think maybe they were referring to the current truck traffic without the bypass was disturbing the fish in the current village mayor’s coy pond (that would be the other mayor with the pretty house and coy pond on the highway….I think I am seeing a trend here.)

  6. IhatePigs420

    Is there going to be more cops?

  7. mochajoe

    I believe it is the current mayor who continued to push for the bypass because of her house china rattling long after the person you mentioned scurried away. Long after MDOT said the bypass wasn’t needed. Long after the bodies of old women and children lay scattered in the street because of the deadly traffic and all the important buildings fell down because of vibration. Can’t wait for her to greet all them visitors to that million dollar corn museum!

  8. I'm diggin the irony...

    IhatePigs420–I’m not sure how there can be more local cops with the village budget situation….you have to have money for more police and we don’t have it (we only have money for parks projects apparently).

    So probably no worries there for awhile and I think the village would have to annex the land around the bypass anyway for local police to be able to patrol it (because the bypass will run mostly through the township–not the village).

    Mochajoe: Seed corn museum may have a better shot of funding simply because it would seem to be more in line with the types of grant funds out there but those still normally require matching funds from local tax sources. That is one place where I think the Mayor’s heart is in the right place to try to find a draw to our downtown, I just don’t share the vision that it will be that big of a draw. Now a Microbrewery on the other hand–with all the alcoholics in the area–that concept has a real shot (no pun intended). Heck, I have an uncle that when he gave up drinking he got hate mail from the laid off workers from the 3rd shift at the Anheuser-Busch plant….so with that as your local market cross section, and the no alcohol sales on Sunday in Sturgis…yep, I think a microbrewery is a winner.

    Now if you use the corn to make moonshine, get it licensed so its legal, so the state and feds get their tax revenue and turn that into a museum, then ya got something. Heck we may get our own reality series out of it.

    Just no more pictures in the paper of the mayor and that darn seed corn hat — it attracts too many birds.

  9. Tom Reed

    You would think that because Michigan’s roads are in such bad shape that we need a 74% raise in gas tax and an increase in vehicle registration fees to repair them, the 131 by pass would actually help southern Michigan. Actually it will accomplish nothing, we’re just taking millions away from road repair to flush it down the toilet.

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