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Sunday, 27 September 2015 19:57

Development slow to materialize along new M-231 bypass in Ottawa County

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Development slow to materialize along new M-231 bypass in Ottawa County COURTESY PHOTO: MDOT

Motorists who spend much time in Ottawa County have long hoped for a north-south alternative to the busy U.S. 31 corridor that passes through the resort town of Grand Haven.

Come late October or early November, those dreams will become reality.

While the exact opening date remains to be determined, the Michigan Department of Transportation tells MiBiz the seven-mile M-231 bypass will open later this year, connecting M-45 (also known as Lake Michigan Drive) with M-104 and I-96 in Nunica.

The two-lane highway will become only the fourth road with a bridge crossing the Grand River in all of Ottawa County — Michigan’s fastest growing county in terms of population, according to U.S. census data.

“(M-231) is definitely a needed piece of infrastructure in that part of the county,” said John Richard, a spokesperson for MDOT, adding that the new river crossing will be a boon for residents, tourists and first responders. “You can see more bridges standing in one spot in Kent County than there are in Ottawa County.”

MDOT expects approximately 20,000 cars to travel M-231 daily, while a similar stretch of the parallel U.S. 31 south of M-104 carries around 50,000 cars per day, Richard said.

The M-231 bypass will be the first new route in the state since M-6 fully opened in 2004 in southern Kent County and eastern Ottawa County, according to MDOT. Since opening, the M-6 corridor has attracted numerous developments along its route, including Metro Health and Mercy Health Saint Mary’s facilities, as well as numerous chain stores and restaurants.

However, developments have been slow to materialize along the largely rural stretch of M-231, according to officials at Ottawa County, Robinson Township and Crockery Township who were contacted for this report.

Despite many rumors that the area around M-231 could mirror the development around M-6, officials said there’s no indication of that — at least not yet.

In Crockery Township at the north end of the bypass, Supervisor Leon Stille said he anticipates developers will take interest along the new route, but so far he has not seen any specific proposals nor have any building permits been filed.

“I’m guessing there is tire-kicking going on right now,” Stille said.

Read 2780 times Last modified on Monday, 28 September 2015 10:29

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