Traffic Tom: WB I-196 to close in downtown GR Monday


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Westbound I-196 in downtown Grand Rapids will close Monday, April 1. 

“Westbound I-196 is going to close over the Grand River. Access will be maintained to Fuller, College and Ottawa. So, your last chance to exit will be Ottawa,” said Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson John Richard.

The stretch of road is scheduled to be closed until Aug. 31.

“The first couple of weeks will be hairy as you know before people realize what’s going on, settle down, find different ways to go, adjust their commute times,” Richard said. 

The posted detour will be westbound I-96 to southbound US-131. However, there are always other options.

“The good news is there are a lot of east/west routes for folks to take — 28th Street, 56th, 44th, M-6,” said Richard. 

If you were in Grand Rapids during 2010, when the fix on I-196 was taking place, you can expect a somewhat similar situation. However, there are two major differences to this projects.

First, only westbound will close and eastbound will remain open all summer long. 

Second, there are roughly 10,000 more cars per day that now use the stretch between Ottawa Avenue and US-131 than in 2010. 

The project, when complete, will add extra lanes and help alleviate congestion. 

“Widening the westbound I-196 over the Grand River to better connect I-196 to the 131 interchange. Wider shoulders, more lanes, dedicated exit lanes to both southbound and northbound 131. Then, of course, two through lanes,” Richard said. 

In the end, the improvements should all be worth the summer long headache. 

“For the growth this town has had over the last couple of years, these are necessary improvements. So, there will be some growing pains but it will be worth it. We just ask motorists for their patience and to allow a lot more time for where they are going,” Richard said.

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