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Stadium Drive construction project set to begin Monday

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Traffic headaches are coming to a West Michigan community as construction starts at a busy intersection.

Monday morning, the orange barrels were rolled out along Stadium Drive. Crews will be reconstructing the roadway between 11th Street in Oshtemo Township and Seneca Lane in Kalamazoo.

Newschannel 3 talked to the Michigan Department of Transportation about what drivers should know about the project.

Stadium Drive and the U.S. 131 interchange is already a traffic mess. Now, drivers will have to battle nearly five months of construction.

M-DOT spokesman Nick Schirripa says, "For us it's more of a safety issue."

He says the interchange and surrounding area was built 60 years ago and needs updating for the high traffic volume we see today. With a Costco and other new businesses coming to the Drake Road intersection, the time to act is now.

"It's a pretty important commercial corridor for downtown Kalamazoo, for the university," he says. "This is actually one of the biggest projects in our region for the next couple years."

$21.5 million will be spent reconstructing the road. M-DOT says this will mean more through and turn lanes, with better-timed traffic signals and a quicker drive getting on and off U.S. 131. But, it won't come without some construction headaches first.
Schirripa says to expect "Lots of single lane closures. This year you're going to have a single lane open on Stadium Drive, plus a left turn lane onto Drake Road, so they'll still be there but it's going to be congested. It's going to be slow going because you're getting two or three lanes down to one. So it's going to be tough."

Also look for on and off ramps to U.S. 131 to be closed for weeks at a time. The goal is to finish by September. Then next year, the work will begin on reconstructing the U.S. 131 overpass bridge.

"Give us a year or two and it will be worth the wait," Schirripa says.

M-DOT says access will remain open to all businesses.