OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. -- More than 20 years and $200 million after planning began, part of the highly anticipated M-231 is expected to open for drivers by October. Other additions connected to the limited access highway include 10 new bridges, an interchange at Lake Michigan Drive, another interchange connecting M-104 and I-96, and two westbound entrance and exit off ramps on I-96 at the interchange at M-104.
John Richard, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Transportation Grand Region, said the new highway is a strategic investment for the fastest growing county in Michigan.
"This will cut commutes in half," said Richard. "That's access not only to Grand Haven, but to much of the lakeshore."
The highway was controversial early on because the original plans called for a much bigger project, one that bisected farmland and would displace many homes along the route. Construction engineer managerTomTellier said the benefits outweigh community concerns.
"Obviously, this will be a big benefit for emergency access and to folks that need to get around," Tellier said.
Construction for the seven-mile road began back in 2011 running parallel to 120th Avenue from Lake Michigan Drive on the south end to I-96 in Nunica to the north. Tellier said one of the largest difficulties was building Ottawa County's fourth bridge over the Grand River.
"Well, the bridge is 3,700 feet, almost 3/4 of a mile," said Tellier. "Due to Coast Guard regulations, we are at a 35-foot minimum from the water up to the lowest beam."
Richard said the environmental impacts were another concern when working along the Grand River's fragile ecosystem. "That's why this bridge is so long; it's the seventh largest bridge in the state, because we have to span the entire wet lands and flood planes, and the river itself."
In celebration of the new roadway, Ottawa County in hosting a 23.1K race. The 14.3-mile run starts and finishes at Robinson Elementary School at 8 a.m. October 3. The cost is $35, and the county will accept runners to participate.
Richard said at last check they had about 200 runners already signed up. For more about the race, click here.