MDOT 1, Old Man Winter 0 as US-131 reopens

Kent County

ALGOMA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — For Katie Patton, who works the counter at the J and H store on 10 Mile Rd. NE and Algoma Ave. NE just off U-S 131 near Rockford, the reopening of lanes on the highway leaves her with one less excuse for the boss.

“I won’t be late to work anymore, hopefully,” Patton said with a laugh.

But she has had a valid excuse for tardiness over the past several months; the project that had MDOT shutting and shifting lanes on US-131 all summer and well into the fall extended Patton’s commute.

Most days, just getting to the parking lot was a hassle.

“There’s always a backup at this light,” Patton said, referring to the light at 10 Mile Rd. NE and Algoma Ave. NE, which was a major detour route. “Most of the time you sit right (there) waiting for all the cars to turn to get out to the expressway.”

All lanes of US-131, as well as ramps leading to and from the expressway, reopened Wednesday.

The project was supposed to be done this past summer. But a labor dispute in September shut down the project — as well as several other road projects across the state — for a month.

Once settled, crews had to race against the calendar because MDOT usually ends projects for the winter season in late November.

“This is unprecedented,” said MDOT spokesman John Richard. “We’ve never worked this late into the season before, especially in a project this major. So, we really lucked out because of the weather, because again, Christmas is coming up just around the corner. And we could be under two, three, four or five inches of snow right now.”

There’s still work to be done.

The moveable barrier wall that allowed MDOT to shift traffic lanes at peak period along US-131’s southbound lanes will be removed this weekend, along with temporary lane markers.

MDOT will finish landscaping and other work unrelated to traffic this spring.

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