US 31 progress to be celebrated; Work not done yet
US 31 is part of the federal transportation network, traveling as far south as Spanish Fort, Alabama, and as far north as Mackinaw City, Michigan. It covers more than 1,200 miles. About 266 of those miles traverse Indiana, making it a critical north-south artery for the Indiana economy.
The section of most interest to northern Indiana has been the roughly 125 miles between the US 31/I-465 Interchange in Indianapolis and the US 31/US 20 Interchange in South Bend. If you’re like me, you’re pretty familiar with the route as you’ve traveled it hundreds of times through the years.
Efforts to promote the corridor were formalized in 2000 with the launch of the US 31 Coalition, though advocacy efforts for improvements to the corridor stretched back to the 1980s. The work of the coalition continues today as it advocates for a free-flowing, limited-access highway connecting our Capitol city with the north-central Indiana economy.
Business and Community leaders in St. Joseph, Marshall, Fulton, Miami, Tipton, and Hamilton Counties have long made improvements to the road a priority. State officials heard their call, and the end result has been hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements in the past 23+ years.
If you’ve traveled the road recently, you’ll notice orange barrels everywhere; a lot of construction is happening on the roadway. A big thanks go to Governor Holcomb and the leadership at INDOT who have picked up the baton from their predecessors and ensured work has continued to make the corridor safer. Those leaders have also recognized what a vital network the corridor is to drive economic activity.
By way of updates, if you remember for many years the priorities have been to remove stoplights and the two railroad crossings in the corridor. Over the years, INDOT has chipped away at those goals, first getting everyone around Kokomo, through the Carmel/Westfield area to I 465, and from Plymouth to South Bend. Only a handful of stoplights remain.
The two railroad crossings are in Marshall County and Tipton County. Work is underway on overpasses in each location. The Tipton County overpass will be completed this fall. The Marshall County project began this past spring and should be substantially complete by the end of 2024.
Additional road work is currently underway in Hamilton County, from SR 38 to 286th Street to a limited access freeway-type road. Projects include the interchange at 236th Street which is nearing completion. Some of you know that as Bakers Corner.
This past summer, work began at 276th Street, near Atlanta and Reynolds Farm Equipment, and that work should be done this fall. Next year, watch for construction to begin on overpasses at 226th Street (Cicero) and 266th Street (Indiana Golf Car).
Several other projects remain priorities in the year to come, with a lot of that attention focused on Marshall and Fulton Counties. In 2027, INDOT plans to begin improvements on an interchange at SR 10 in Marshall County and SR 110 near the Marshall County/Fulton County line. That same year, watch for construction to begin on an overpass at CR 700N in Fulton County, which is just south of the Landfill.
As much as we’d like for the entire corridor to be “finished,” much work will remain, even after those planned 2027 improvements get underway. INDOT is currently focused on the area between Miami County and the Fulton/Marshall County line, with their ProPEL 31 project. That work will help identify what comes next in the corridor.
Advocacy efforts remain critical to efforts to improve the corridor. Though much progress has been made, much work remains to make the corridor the safe, free-flowing highway leaders envisioned when they began advocating for improvements decades ago.