Safety or Freight: What's the Top Priority for U.S. 131 Redesign Project in Grand Rapids?

Urban designers are playing the advocate in a Michigan Department of Transportation study that is considering ways to reconfigure U.S. Highway 131 where it curves through Downtown Grand Rapids.

1 minute read

March 2, 2022, 11:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Construction work to replace the bridge deck carrying eastbound I-196 over Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

Construction work to replace the bridge deck of I-196 over Grand River in Downtown Grand Rapids (pictured in April 2021). | Ayman Haykal / Shutterstock

The Michigan Department of Transportation is seeking public feedback on a potential redesign of U.S. Highway 131 in Grand Rapids.

"The state’s fiscal year budget that began Oct. 1 included $10 million to study the reconstruction or reconfiguration of the Wealthy Street interchange that has been referred to as the most dangerous intersection in the state," reports Kate Carlson for MiBiz.  

The route is heavily used for goods movement and freight for large industrial uses, but some local advocates monitoring the US-131 Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study say that safety should be a larger concern in the redesign. The Wealthy Street interchange, for example, is at the southern end of the highway's S-curve through downtown Grand Rapids. 

"The concept of redesigning the area surrounding the S-curve dates back decades, with some supporting a redesign that puts the stretch of US-131 at grade, potentially rerouting freight traffic to I-196," explains Carlson.

Soundbites from Ted Lott, principal with Lott3Metz Architecture LLC, and Tim Mroz, vice president of strategic initiatives at The Right Place Inc., are included in the source article.

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