Upton urges ‘yes build’ for U.S. 131

Published 5:20 pm Saturday, January 28, 2006

By Staff
WASHINGTON - Cass County's congressman, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, urged Michigan Department of Transportation Director Gloria Jeff to reconsider her “no build” decision on U.S. 131.
Recent media reports have indicated that MDOT was reconsidering its decision.
Upton visited with local community development folks in Three Rivers Thursday to discuss the status of U.S. 131.
The full text of Upton's letter to Jeff follows below:
I want to express my profound disappointment at the Michigan Department of Transportation's “no build” decision for U.S. 131 improvements.
While I have received the standard line from MDOT regarding traffic counts, I don't find this answer to be acceptable.
First of all, I strongly believe that the efforts of the communities in the outlying areas of U.S. 131, coupled with economic development potential of the area, MUST be taken into account when making a decision for improvements.
Clearly MDOT has ignored these efforts and plans. How does the state promote southwest Michigan as a region for business development if it is clear that there is no plan to improve our transportation access?
In addition, the folks who have worked long and hard on this initiative feel like they have not been dealt with in good faith and I am inclined to agree with them.
Everyone seemed to be blindsided by this decision. If this was such an uphill battle, everyone should have been told that at the outset rather than having the rug pulled out from under them with this announcement.
Finally, with regard to the traffic counts, it appears that other projects in the state have proceeded with lower counts (Manton and Cadillac's four- lane improvements for example).
This contradicts the logic of your initial reason for abandoning the project. How is it that this project cannot go forward if that is the case?
I read with interest press accounts that MDOT was re-evaluating its no- build decision. I hope that you will take my comments as well as those of other concerned legislative leaders into account.
This is a quality of life issue that will affect 10s of thousands of folks in southwest Michigan. Our residents deserve more. I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.