BENTON TOWNSHIP — For the next three weekends I-94 will be closed from 9 p.m. Saturday until 9 a.m. Sunday while three Benton Harbor area bridges are demolished that span the freeway.

The closure each weekend will be from Napier Avenue (Exit 30) to M-140 (Exit 41), said Nick Schirripa, Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman.

“We’re anticipating up to 12 hours the total closure of I-94 each weekend,” he said.

The first bridge to be demolished, this Saturday, is the I-94 Business Loop Bridge that connects East Main Street in Benton Township to I-94.

“They’re rebuilding that entire interchange,” Schirripa said.

That bridge is expected to reopen late in 2022. Schirripa said detours for the I-94 Business Loop will be in place because the bridge will be gone, but traffic on I-94 will flow as normal once the demolition is completed.

The Highland Avenue bridge will be removed April 24-25 and won’t be rebuilt. Schirripa said cul-de-sacs will be placed at both ends of Highland Avenue where the bridge used to be.

Then over the weekend of May 1-2 the Territorial Road bridge will be demolished. Schirripa said that bridge is expected to be rebuilt and ready for use by early this winter.

The detour routes during the night closures will be:

  • Eastbound I-94 traffic to northbound I-196 will be detoured on M-139, Territorial Road, Euclid Avenue and Red Arrow Highway;
  • Westbound I-94 traffic to northbound I-196 will be detoured on M-140 and Red Arrow Highway;
  • Southbound I-196 traffic to westbound I-94 will be detoured on Red Arrow Highway, Euclid Avenue, Territorial Road and M-139.

The bridge demolitions are part of MDOT’s plan to connect the I-94 Business Loop to U.S. 31. The entire project, completing a vision in the works for nearly 50 years to link U.S. 31 to I-94 and I-196, is expected to be completed in late 2022.

“When we are done with this project, people will be able to stay on U.S. 31 from the Mackinac Bridge to Lexington, Ky.,” Schirripa said.

The project has been done in pieces as funding became available. Construction of U.S. 31 to Napier Avenue was finished in 2003.

Construction of the final phase started last year, which included reconstructing part of I-94 BL, building a roundabout at I-94 and Crystal Avenue, constructing a new Britain Avenue bridge over U.S. 31, and I-94 crossover construction and shoulder widening in preparation for this year’s construction.

This summer, plans also call for the reconstruction of westbound I-94, the addition of cul-de-sacs on Empire Avenue on each side of U.S. 31, the construction of the Benton Center Road bridge over U.S. 31, and bridge improvements over westbound I-94.

In 2022, plans call for reconstructing the eastbound lane of I-94, construction of the U.S.31 segment and the connection at the I-94 BL interchange, Benton Center Road improvements over eastbound I-94, Benton Center Road bridge construction over U.S.-31 and reconstruction of the I-196 interchange.

The three-year project is projected to cost $121.5 million.

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