Proposed US 131 Widening Project Could Change Downtown Grand Rapids Forever
US 131 through Grand Rapids is the busiest freeway in Michigan outside of Metro Detroit. If the highway is part of your daily commute it won't surprise you to learn that the Michigan Department of Transportation is looking to widen a portion of the roadway.
The project could cause a significant change to the layout of the city's downtown.
Proposed Changes to US 131 in Grand Rapids
The area of focus on US 131 is in Wyoming and Grand Rapids stretching from 28th Street (M-11) to Cherry Street just south of the S Curve. That portion of freeway was built in the 1960 and 8 decades later it's time to make some serious structural changes to the roadway.
Proposed Wealthy Street Interchange Changes
The proposal to upgrade US 131 could change the Wealthy Street intersection to an underpass. This would eliminate that odd left-hand exit. It would also create easier access to Amtrak, the Rapid depot and Downtown Market. It would, on the other hand likely cause congestion with intersections with Century Ave and Ionia as currently Wealthy Street passes over both those cross streets.
Eliminating MLK/Franklin Street Interchange
There are several interchanges through this stretch of US 131. From the oddity that is Hynes Ave to Hall then MLK and Wealthy/Cherry in rapid success approaching the S Curve, the removal of the MLK/Franklin Street interchange is on the table. This intersection, particularly from the south is an oddity with no direct access to MLK. Traffic comes off 131 to a four-way stop at Century and Sheridan then up a hill on Sheridan to MLK. Eliminating this interchange would necessitate using either Hall or Wealthy to access MLK but would restore other cross streets, Graham and Buckley/Logan which are currently cut off by 131.
Adding a 4th Lane to US 131
Adding an additional travel lane to US 131 is the 3rd major change being studied. This option would mean some property adjacent to the freeway would be acquired to facilitate the additional lanes.
MDOT is currently studying the issue and it's important to understand that this is simply a study at this point. No funding has currently been allocated to do any work rather gain insight on what, if any, changes should be made.