Michigan Highways: Since 1997.

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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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Southern Terminus:    M-45/Lake Michigan Dr in central Ottawa Co west the 120th Ave intersection
Northern Terminus:    Jct I-96 (at Exit 9) & M-104 at Nunica
Length: 7.051 miles
Maps: Route Map of M-231
Notes: With the state's economy rebounding more slowly than expected during the first decade of the 2000s, MDOT announced on March 13, 2006 a revision in the overall plan to complete the proposed US-31 Bypass in Ottawa Co. Instead of building the entire corridor from north to south, segment after segment, the state altered their plans instead to only construct one of the proposed two Grand River spans in the 120th Ave corridor and completing a two-lane, limited-access highway from I-96 (at Exit 9) & M-104 near Nunica southerly across the river, ending at M-45/Lake Michigan Dr. This two-lane expressway was built on a four-lane freeway right-of-way to accommodate its eventual conversion to a fully controlled-access facility in the future. Also changed was the highway's route designation. Since it would not connect directly with US-31, it was designated M-231 instead—a nod to its originally-intended route number and possible future designation should the remainder of the freeway ever be constructed. M-231 serves as a relief and detour route when the US-31 Grand Haven Drawbridge is stuck in the open position or experiences other mechanical problems.
  The M-231 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was completed and the planning and design phase commenced in 2007. Acquisition of right-of-way for this segment of the highway ran through 2008 and actual road and bridge construction began in 2011. As of early 2006, MDOT had approximately $10.4 million to design the three projects and begin property acqusition and additional funding would serve to accelerate the project or, possibly, move work on the other segments up.
  The centerpiece—and most critically-needed aspect—of the entire M-231 project is the bridge crossing the Grand River. For decades, there have only been three bridges spanning the Grand River in all of Ottawa County: US-31 in Grand Haven, 68th St at Eastmanville (between Allendale and Coopersville—the only non-state trunkline bridge in the lot) and the M-45/Lake Michigan Dr bridge east of Allendale. The new bridge is 3,700 feet (nearly ¾ mile) long and because of Coast Guard regulations, the minimum clearance between the surface of the river and the lowest beam is 35 feet. MDOT sources also note the new M-231 Grand River crossing is the seventh-largest bridge in the entire state.
  A non-motorized pathway on the western edge of the M-231 Grand River bridge has been named for and dedicated to Sgt Henry E. Plant (1841–1925) of Ottawa Co. Plant was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1896, the first in the United States for rescuing his regimental colors. He was the first Medal of Honor recipient from the county and the 14th Michigan Infantry. Plant has two connections with the new highway. When he came to Michigan in 1854 with his parents and family, they settling on an uncleared farm at 120th Ave and Leonard St, through which M-231 now passes. Later in life, Plant also served in many Crockery Twp positions, including Highway Commissioner, in the early part of the 20th Century. Legislation to name pathway after Plant was sponsored by State Rep. Amanda Price. The non-motorized path on the bridge is connected to 120th Ave on the north side of the Grand River and with North Cedar Dr on the south side and will be fully completed and opened to use in spring or summer 2016. Its official name is the "Sgt. Henry E. Plant Memorial Grand River Bridge Non-motorized Trail."
  M-231 has an odd and somewhat tenuous connection with the long-decommissioned route of M-213 which, for exactly 25 years (from January 7, 1935 until January 7, 1960), ran along Maple Island Rd (part of present-day B-31) from M-46/Apple Ave to M-120 in north-central Muskegon Co. Not only do both highway routes share the same digits with only the 1 and 3 swapped, M-213 ran along what is now B-31 and that route ends at I-96 at the next interchange east of the northern terminus of M-231 less than one mile to the east. While M-213 never extended south of M-46 into Ottawa Co, it is ironic to note the relationship between it and M-231, even if one must use a bit of imagination to made the connection.
History: 1990–2003 – Planning and route selection begins for a new US-31 freeway "bypass" connecting the existing freeway segments of that route south of Holland and north of Muskegon.
  2006 (Nov 8) – The M-231 route designation for the seven-mile long, two-lane limited-access highway to be built along the line of the proposed "US-31 Bypass" between M-45/Lake Michigan Dr and I-96 at Nunica is unveiled at an MDOT Public Information Meeting on this date.
  2009 (Nov 20) – The FHWA approves M-231 as a "future rural minor arterial" on this date. This functional classification makes the future roadway eligible for federal-aid.
  2010 (Apr 23) – The M-231 project clears another hurdle as the FHWA approves it with a Record of Decision (ROD), which allows MDOT to move forward with final engineering, land acquisitions and actual highway construction. Also included with the M-231 ROD from FHWA were additional planned improvements along existing US-31 between Holland and Grand Haven.
  2013 (Nov 15) – The first short segment of (Future) M-231 opens to traffic, although it is not signed as such pending the completion of the remainder of the highway between M-104 at Nunica and M-45/Lake Michigan Dr. The ¼-mile segment opened to traffic along 120th Ave from M-104/Cleveland St northerly to the I-96 ebd off-ramp and wbd on-ramp is, for the time being, treated simply as a connection between M-104 and I-96 to and from Muskegon to the northwest.
  2015 (Oct 3) – In the lead-up to the opening of M-231 to traffic in November, the "M23.1k Run"—a 14.3-mile race along the soon-to-be-opened M-231—is held and limited to the first 231 people to register. The race is put on by Ottawa County is partnership with the MDOT, the Grand Haven Running Club, and the Townships of Robinson and Crockery and others. Proceeds from the race benefit Ottawa County's non-motorized pathway (bike trail) system.
  2015 (Oct 16, 24)MDOT, regional and local officials participate in a ribbon-cutting event on the Grand River bridge carrying M-231 on Oct 24, six days before the highway opens to traffic. Also dedicated a week early on Oct 16 is the Sgt. Henry E. Plant Memorial Grand River Bridge Non-motorized Trail running across the west side of the bridge with connecting trails extending to 120th Ave on the north side of the river and to North Cedar Dr on the south side. (Check out the photos and video taken the day after the official ribbon-cutting ceremony.)
  2015 (Oct 30, 4:00pm)MDOT opens the new M-231 route through central Ottawa Co to traffic.
Controlled Access: With the exception of the ¼-mile segment of M-231 from M-104/Cleveland St to its northern terminus at the I-96 ramps west of Nunica, the remainer of M-231 is a two-lane, limited-access expressway.
NHS: No portion of M-231 is on the National Highway System (NHS).
Memorial Highway:  New! The following Memorial Highway designation has been officially assigned to part of M-231 by the Michigan Legislature:
  • Sgt. Henry E. Plant Memorial Grand River Bridge Non-Motorized Trail – "The nonmotorized multiuse lane on the bridge along the portion of highway M-231 over the Grand River and connecting Robinson Township and Crockery Township in Ottawa County..." From MDOT: "Sgt. Henry Ebenezer Plant was born October 11, 1841 in Oswego County, New York. In 1854 he migrated with his parents and siblings to a farm at 120th Avenue and Leonard Street (soon to be the north end of the new M-231 highway) near Nunica and Spoonville in Ottawa County. Henry enlisted on December 5, 1861 in Company F, 14th Michigan Infantry. Politically Henry served in many Crockery Township positions including Highway Commissioner."
& Video:
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