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Michi

*South Beltline, M6*

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I just got my new MDOT free map in the mail the other day and noticed the completion of the new South Beltline in Grand Rapids. Can you guys tell me about it?

I remember the first phase completion on my last trip to GR, and it looked to be a nice smooth ride. The last time I was there, the progress had made it to 131 and that interchange was just about complete.

Here's a video I found from MDOT's website about the Southbelt Shuffle. I forgot to bring my headphones to the library, so I wasn't able to hear the audio. Did any of you Grand Rapids folk attend this event?

http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-...04463--,00.html

Can anyone offer a photo tour of the new freeway?

I really like this interchange. Although, I am curious as to why it wasn't built AFTER the Thornapple River?

m6_i196_A.jpg

It's a beast! Very suburban-like. I like the little cut-out for the surface street to get through.

m6_131_060404_4.jpg

Seeing engineering unfold always amazes me!

m6_wilson_east.jpg

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It's nice for some people. I thought it would take a lot of time off of m y commute (from downtown area to the airport) but it really did not. It is fairly busy now that more and more people are noticing it and it is making the maps. What is does do is really cut down on travel time between say Holland and Lansing - not that big of a deal.

What I don't like about it... I always thought it was cool that everyone coming through GR was forced to go downtown. This was not good for traffic, but it was cool - and there are not many cities like that anymore. It has reduced traffic on 96 through downtown which is good - that two lane beast is the oldest in the nation and a few more cars would put it over the limit.

So, there are advantages and disadvantages. Some people will argue sprawl, but honestly, that area of town was already being eaten by sprawl. I am sure if anything, this may actually add a bit of density to the area.

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It takes 20 minutes off the Holland to Lansing trip -- and vice versa. My daily commute to GR from Holland is also a bit faster, since all the folks who used to have to drive through downtown now bypass the city on M6, taking what I'd estimate to be about 10% of the traffic away. All in all it's a blessing for drivers, but a real contributor to urban sprawl and suburbia.

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Here's the story that ran in Grand Rapids Magazine in December 2004 ...

WHEREVER THE ROAD TAKES US

Grand Rapids

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And here is some background on Paul B. Henry, after whom the South Beltline (officially the Paul B. Henry Freeway) was named ...

In 2001, Detroit Free Press editorial page editor Ron Dzwonkowski posed this question to readers:

What would former U.S. Rep. Paul B. Henry (5th District 1985-

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The M6 interchange at the Thornapple River is one of the great desecrations in Michigan highway history. I drove I-96 between GR and Ann Arbor for years along some of the most boring concrete in the country outside of Kansas. The only high spot in the trip was the lovely bridge over the Thornapple River and the views of the river it afforded. Then came MDOT and the concrete spaghetti.

Hey, I live in a town where freeway interchanges are renowned for their beauty. But I will trade any number of four-levels and 110-105 interchanges for the now-lost views of the Thornapple.

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LA Dave, you took the words right out of my mouth. The South Belt really messed up some pretty countryside.

Of course, if we want to see real destruction along the M-6, we need only to wait a few years before all those nice rolling farms it passes turn into Wal-Marts, and McMansions, and wide roads clogged with traffic.

I goes without saying that GR could have miles and miles of light rail for the price of the South Belt. Too bad MDOT has its head up where the sun doesn't shine.

The M6 interchange at the Thornapple River is one of the great desecrations in Michigan highway history.

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Are there any plans to widen the Ford Freeway? That's about the silliest thought out freeway i've ever been on. Why doesn't it have three lanes from 96' to Hudsonville? Besides that it's infrastructure is crumbling. here's hopin.

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Are there any plans to widen the Ford Freeway?  That's about the silliest thought out freeway i've ever been on.  Why doesn't it have three lanes from 96'  to Hudsonville?    Besides that it's infrastructure is crumbling.  here's hopin.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I dont think we will ever see that happen.

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The M6 interchange at the Thornapple River is one of the great desecrations in Michigan highway history.  I drove I-96 between GR and Ann Arbor for years along some of the most boring concrete in the country outside of Kansas.  The only high spot in the trip was the lovely bridge over the Thornapple River and the views of the river it afforded.  Then came MDOT and the concrete spaghetti.

Hey, I live in a town where freeway interchanges are renowned for their beauty.  But I will trade any number of four-levels and 110-105 interchanges for the now-lost views of the Thornapple.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree. It seems like they should have built it before or after Thornapple River. Not only does it destroy a great view, it seems like it would have been much less complex to avoid the river altogether. I'd be interested to learn why they did it that way...

Joe

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I agree. It seems like they should have built it before or after Thornapple River. Not only does it destroy a great view, it seems like it would have been much less complex to avoid the river altogether. I'd be interested to learn why they did it that way...

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I am not defending MDOT at all, but I believe it had greatly to do with the airport property stretching all the way to Kraft. They could not put it any closer to 28th Street because the only path was to swing East of the airport. North and West of the airport would take you straight through one of the largest commercial/industrial areas this side of the state. They could have started it further toward the Lowell exit, but if you look at an aerial of that area, the Thornapple winds back and forth around Whitneyville. I know the residents in that neighborhood right by the highway, and the people on the river, were furious at the time though.

They could have run it right through 28th. I wouldn't miss 95% of the businesses there (except Lowes ;) )

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Of course, if we want to see real destruction along the M-6, we need only to wait a few years before all those nice rolling farms it passes turn into Wal-Marts, and McMansions, and wide roads clogged with traffic.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You don't have to wait. Go look at the Kalamazoo and 68th "Mini-City" interchange. It reminds me of Novi. Ugh!

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