Legislature appropriates $25 million for a key West Michigan freeway interchange
On this episode of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, conversations about how supplemental appropriations legislation will boost a long-sought rebuilding of a freeway interchange that is vital to the regional flow of commuters, commerce and quality of life.
First, Michigan Department of Transportation Grand Region Engineer Erick Kind talks about how the interchange at I-96 and Fruit Ridge Avenue in Walker, northwest of Grand Rapids, has been outdated and in need of improvement for several years. As with all transportation infrastructure in Michigan, decades-long underinvestment has made the improvements cost-prohibitive, despite the growing manufacturing, agricultural, service industry, and community needs in the corridor.
The interchange is categorized as functionally obsolete and in need of replacement. Fruit Ridge Avenue has five lanes north and four lanes to the south of the bridge over I-96, but the bridge has only two lanes, which presents congestion and safety challenges.
In the podcast’s second segment, State Rep. Carol Glanville, who helped secure the $25 million for the project, talks about her advocacy and success helping others understand why it’s a priority not just for the city of Walker but the broader region. She also explains how expanding the Fruit Ridge Avenue bridge will allow for nonmotorized lanes and connections between trails.
From previous federal grant applications for the project:
- The I-96/Fruit Ridge Avenue interchange improvement project will redesign and rebuild an important freight-handling interchange located in the city of Walker, Michigan, an agricultural and manufacturing hub of west Michigan. The project serves a substantially rural workforce, which swells the city's daytime population by more than 60 percent as they commute to and from Walker industries producing products for regional and international markets through Detroit, Chicago, the Muskegon Harbor Deepwater Port, and Canada.
Other relevant links:
Analysis of the supplemental appropriations legislation
A December announcement of a nearly 200,000-square-foot industrial facility near the interchange