Will We Gain A New Tunnel And Lose The Wealthy St. Exit On 131 in Grand Rapids?
In January, the Michigan Department of Transportation asked drivers their thoughts on how to best handle traffic on US-131 in metro Grand Rapids and beyond.
Now it looks like they'll be able to implement some of those ideas thanks to 10 Million Dollars from Michigan lawmakers.
Back in January, any hopes of improvement seemed hindered by a lack of funds, with MDOT, Spokesperson John Richard telling Fox 17 that funding is always an issue:
We don't want folks to think there's an actual project that's on the near horizon. This is just the initial stages to get as many conceptual alternatives that we as we possibly can. There's so much that we could do if we had if we had the funding to accommodate the growth of West Michigan.
MLive.com reported that as part of the newly passed state budget that MDOT will receive state funding to make some changes happen, including the possibility of removing the Wealthy exit altogether or maybe even tunneling a portion of the highway underground.
One Reddit user speculates on the tunnel possibility:
Under ground caves turned into a tunnel?? That is what my hope is for. But $10 mil doesn’t go very far these days. That’s like 50 pounds of wood. -u/larrycorser
In a statement to MLive, MDOT Spokesperson John Richard noted that the options around Wealthy have generated healthy discussion:
There’s talk about, ‘Well, what if 131 just went over Wealthy?’...‘What if 131 went under Wealthy and just bypassed the interchange altogether?’ So, there’s all different options out there.
For the over 120,000 drivers that use the roadway daily, the Wealthy & Cherry St. exits have always been a chokepoint for slowdowns.
On the northbound side, slower exiting traffic has to exit from the left lane.
On the southbound portion of the freeway, slower traffic enters on the left side from Cherry St.
So, while removing the Wealthy St exit sounds extreme, it could be very effective in moving traffic through the S-Curve much more quickly.