MONTAGUE, Mich. (WOOD) — Record flooding on the lakeshore is forcing the Michigan Department of Transportation to shut down a traffic lifeline between Montague and Whitehall: Business Route US-31, also known as Thompson and Dowling streets.
Road officials are blaming the brutal winter and heavy spring rains for the flooding. MDOT suspects higher water levels on Lake Michigan are pushing back water into White Lake, causing it to spill over its banks.
The Muskegon County Road Commission issued lane restrictions for the water-covered connector earlier this month. At that time, the commission said water over the roadway was as deep as 8 inches in some places, but the infrastructure was still sound.
Tuesday, the floodwaters over Business Route US-31 were up to 12 inches deep, covering all four lanes of the roadway.
Muskegon County Road Commission Superintendent Eric Scott said closing the corridor was necessary.
“By no means at all is it MDOT or the road commission’s first mission to shut a road down. We understand that this is a busy route that connects Whitehall and Montague, so that was our last case resort. But really for motorists’ safety, the decision was saved to shut it down,” Scott said.
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MDOT is asking drivers who normally take that section of Business Route US-31 to follow the posted detour, which will tack on an extra 15 to 20 minutes to their drive. That detour takes drivers on the Montague side north on Water Street to Fruitvale Road and east to southbound US-31. Drivers on the Whitehall side should take Colby Street to northbound US-31 to the Fruitvale Road exit, then head south.
If water doesn’t recede soon, MDOT and the county will consider using a pumper or other measures to mitigate the flooding.