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M-6 road work means big headache for west Michigan with full lane shutdown

June 29, 2017 by Steven M. Gursten

Commuters and vacationers, beware: A crucial Lake Michigan region link is shutting down starting July 8, as concrete repairs and repaving starts M-6 road work

It’s been 13 years since the opening of M-6, the nearly 20-mile long freeway south of Grand Rapids that connects Kent and Ottawa counties. But a 4-mile stretch of M-6 road work scheduled for 2018 has been bumped up — to right now.

The consensus among most commuters and vacationers who use the M-6 regularly is that this full lane shutdown is going to be a nightmare.

Starting July 8, road crews will be replacing pavement between Jackson Street near Interstate 196 in Ottawa County and Wilson Avenue in Kent County. The 5-month process will include all eastbound and westbound lanes within that portion of M-6 being shut down and detours being used.

That consensus about this not being fun is probably right. Cities like Wyoming, Byron Center and Grandville — south of Grand Rapids — have seen steady growth over the last decade, and the M-6 has played a big part of that. The M-6 has eased the traffic flow getting in and around the area. Having 4 miles of the M-6 freeway now essentially blocked for 5 months means commuter traffic will be slow, will spill onto nearby streets, and will cause frustration, delays and backups.

Meanwhile, people from outside the area who have vacation homes on Lake Michigan or are visiting tourist destinations like Holland, Saugatuck, South Haven, and St. Joseph (as they move down the lakeshore) will find themselves going way out of their way during what’s already proven to be a hot summer with lots of delays and road construction.

How the M-6 road work process will go

If your route is eastbound onto M-6 from I-196 traffic, you’ll be staying on I-196 as a detour. From there you can stay on I-196 and either exit at local streets to get back to M-6 after Wilson Avenue.

If you were planning to take M-6 to where it ends at I-96 (to Lansing and Detroit), most of the people I talk to are recommending you play it safe by taking I-196 through downtown Grand Rapids until coming to I-96. Yes, it’ll be out of your way, but it will be a nonstop and bigger road, as opposed to stop-and-go traffic on nearby smaller commercial and residential through streets.

Now, if you’re heading westbound on M-6 to get to I-196 — for, example, in order to get to a Lake Michigan destination — your detour will be tricky and, from the looks of it, frustrating.

That’s because you’ll need to take northbound U.S. 131 to downtown Grand Rapids in order to get to westbound I-196. But that portion of U.S. 131 will be undergoing its own road work over the summer and into fall, including lighting and concrete repairs.

Local traffic can keep going on westbound M-6 and exit at Wilson Avenue, then navigate local streets to get to their destination.

Keep yourself and others safe during M-6 road work

Whether you live and work in the affected area, or whether you’re passing through to get to your beachfront spot, safety is of the utmost importance — not just for yourself, but for the construction workers on the road. Construction projects and roadworks also tends to increase car accidents. And every year construction workers pay the price — sometimes with their lives — because of people not paying attention and speeding. When the orange signs and barrels are up, go the posted reduced speed limit. Remember also that fines and points for speeding are doubled in work areas.

Our auto attorneys have represented people injured in construction zones and construction workers who have been injured and killed by careless drivers. These cases almost always can be prevented.

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