US-31 bridge construction causes headaches for drivers

Ottawa County

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Construction on the US-31 drawbridge near Grand Haven caused serious traffic backups Tuesday afternoon. 

The Michigan Department of Transportation started a bridge improvement project on the drawbridge on Sunday. Northbound and southbound traffic over the bridge has been reduced to one lane in both directions.

MDOT says US-31 access to and from Harbor Island and Adams Street will be closed during the project. There are also closures at the 3rd Street and M-104 exits. 

“Yesterday when I came to Grand Haven, I decided I was going to shoot down to Lincoln, over to 231. It took me, from Robins Road to Spring Lake, 55 minutes to get home. So I thought I would try this way,” said driver Janice Whitlow as she sat in standstill traffic on S Beacon Boulevard. “What am I, about nine cars from that corner? And I’m going on 30 minutes to move 9 cars.”

MDOT estimates lane closures will add around 30 minutes to drivers’ commutes but Tuesday drivers reported waiting in traffic about a mile away from the drawbridge for 45 minutes to an hour.

“I’ve heard from coworkers that it’s been taking a while and I thought well I’ll give it a shot, leave a little early today and see how it goes but it’s bad,” said driver Shawn Rake. “I know some people are taking M-231, Lake Michigan drive. Maybe that will be my route next time.”

Several drivers caught in the hour-long traffic jam say they were passing through on the way to the Muskegon, Ludington and Spring Lake areas. 

“This is ridiculous. I cannot believe this is happening,” said Precious Tillman who was on her way to pick up her son. “Hopefully neither one of my kids has to use the bathroom and I’m glad I brought snacks along because oh my God I’ve never endured nothing like this before.”

MDOT set up detour routes. They say drivers heading northbound on US-31 will be detoured to westbound Van Wagoner Street. Drivers can then head south to the intersection of 174th Avenue and 3rd Street. From there drivers can head south on Pine St to M-104. MDOT also says drivers can take M-45 (Lake Michigan Drive) to M-231 and then take that to M-104 and I-96.

“We’ll just wait in line. I’m in no hurry. We’ll get there when we get there. That’s all we can do,” said Dorothy Edson while sitting in the traffic jam.

MDOT says the project on the US-31 bridge will continue into late December. 

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