Grand Rapids - MDOT plans to rebuild a busy portion of I-196 in Grand Rapids in 2010 and area residents and users of the highway attended a public meeting this afternoon.
Dozens of community stakeholders attended the meeting this afternoon, including many residents. Angel Gonzalez who lives in the Belknap neighborhood just north of I-196 felt the community brainstorming session was positive. "I don't think it's just for show, I hope that they are really going to take our input and the ideas that we come up with and implement them in the ultimate design. That's important."
The $20 million project will widen I-196 from the Grand River to Fuller Avenue, and replace the Coit Avenue NE bridge and the Lafayette Avenue underpass. Work on the project is scheduled to begin in 2010.
Art Green of the Michigan Department of Transportation says the project is not an expansion, rather a "rehabilitation" of the exisitng interstate. That includes corridor aesthetics, mobility for pedestrians across the Coit Avenue bridge and construction staging. Also, weave and merge lanes will be added.
M-DOT representative Dawn Garner says a sub-committee on aesthetics will influence the corridor. Members of the sub-committee include the Michigan Street Steering Committee, Mobile/Noble Planning Charrette, and the Gateways Committee.
At Thursday's session were many residents who say when the I-196 was first built it isolated people from the downtown. Re-designing the Coit Aveneue birdge they say is key to the project's success. Construction is slated for 2010.
Lambrini Lukidis / Bob Brenzing