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Major U.S. 31 Upgrades at Halfway Mark in Ind.

Fri November 23, 2012 - Midwest Edition
Jennifer Rupp

An aerial shot of the new U.S. 31 bridge crossing over Roosevelt Road in South Bend, Ind.
An aerial shot of the new U.S. 31 bridge crossing over Roosevelt Road in South Bend, Ind.
An aerial shot of the new U.S. 31 bridge crossing over Roosevelt Road in South Bend, Ind. Crews set a beam for the new U.S. 31 bridge crossing over Roosevelt Road in South Bend, Ind. Crews pave U.S. 31 near the St. Joseph County/Marshall County line.

The third and final segment of U.S. 31 in Indiana is at the halfway mark in its rehabilitation. The efforts to upgrade and realign this section of U.S. 31 from U.S. 30 in Plymouth to the U.S. 20 bypass in South Bend began in 2008 and will be complete in 2014. Approximately 15 mi. (24 km) of the 20-mi. (32 km) corridor will be built on new terrain east of the existing route.

The goal of the $221 million project is to reduce congestion and improve safety and mobility along the route. The new freeway will be accessed only through one of the four new interchanges: 7th Road, U.S. 6, Pierce Road/SR 4 and Kern Road.

“When the new section of U.S. 31 is complete, drivers can expect to shave 30 minutes off their commute between South Bend and Indianapolis,” said Matt Deitchley, media relations director for the LaPorte District of the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).

Phases I and II started at the heart of the 20-mi. project in 2008 and ran through 2011. Phases III and IV stretch to the northern South Bend point and the southern Plymouth point of U.S. 31, wrapping up in 2014.

A total of 20 contracts have been awarded for this project, one of which went to Walsh & Kelly Inc. of Griffith, Ind., for $24.1 million. Walsh & Kelly was hired to build four bridges along with new roadway. Their company has been around since 1949, providing asphalt-manufacturing plants, excavation, grading, concrete and pavement services in northern Indiana.

Two other segments of U.S. 31 are simultaneously under construction: U.S. 31 Kokomo which runs just south of the Tipton/Howard County line and ends one mi. north of the U.S. 35 intersection, and U.S. 31 Hamilton County, stretching from I-465 to SR 38. Once all three U.S. 31 projects are complete, approximately 46 mi. (74 km) of the 122-mi. (196 km) stretch of U.S. 31 from South Bend to Indianapolis will be upgraded with safety and mobility improvements. The total money spent for all three sections will total more than $1 billion.

Funding for these projects comes from an aggressive 10-year transportation plan, known as “Major Moves,” launched by Gov. Mitch Daniels in late 2005. The initiative was set in motion to significantly improve and expand Indiana’s highway infrastructure. A total of $2.6 billion was committed to Major Moves from the long-term lease of the Indiana Toll Road and the plan called for 104 new roadways by 2015 with 1,600 lane mi.

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