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Michigan Ave., Main St. in TR slated for 2029 reconstruct by MDOT

MDOT is planning to work on the entirety of Michigan Avenue and Main Street in Three Rivers in Fiscal Year 2028, with construction expected for 2029, as part of a draft Five-Year Transportation Plan revealed earlier this month. Pictured is the intersection of Jefferson Street and Sixth Avenue, one of the rougher parts of the road. (COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON)

By Robert Tomlinson
News Director

THREE RIVERS — Talk to anyone in the Three Rivers area about roads, and they will give their opinions on which road in the city is the worst one.

Most would give that designation to the stretch of East Michigan Avenue between Main Street and Hoffman Road, a major road that hasn’t gotten significantly worked on for at least two decades, and is highlighted – or lowlighted, as the case may be – by significant bumps and cracks in the area of the road around Three Rivers High School. As the road is on M-60, a state road, any major construction projects would have to be done by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Now, the years-long question of when the road will finally get worked on looks to be answered, and even more waiting looks to be involved.

On Aug. 3, MDOT’s State Transportation Commission adopted a draft Five-Year Transportation Program, which documents planned projects for the department’s highway program between Fiscal Years 2024-28, and is delivered to the legislature by March 1 every year. New to the list are multiple projects in St. Joseph County, the biggest one being a reconstruction of M-60, M-86 and the U.S. 131 Business Route in the city – essentially, Michigan Avenue and Main Street – the two major thoroughfares within the city.

According to a map of the construction area on MDOT’s website, the proposed project would include the entirety of Main Street and nearly the entirety of Michigan Avenue in the city, save for the stretch of the road replaced during the 2019-2020 reconstruction of U.S. 131 between the highway and Day Drive. In total, 5.557 miles of road will be reconstructed.

The proposed project will also involve work on the bridges on those roads, which will be concurrent with the projects. The Portage River bridge on East Michigan Avenue will be replaced, while overlays are being planned for the two bridges on West Michigan Avenue near and over the Rocky River, and a “healer sealer” planned for the St. Joseph River bridge over South Main Street, something similar to driveway asphalt crack sealing to mitigate water getting into the cracks.

The estimated timeframe for that project? Not until Fiscal Year 2028, with actual construction planned for 2029. This is a change from when it showed up in last year’s Five-Year Transportation Program, when it called for funding in Fiscal Year 2026, with construction slated for 2027.

Sam Sorensen, the associate regional engineer of development for MDOT’s southwest region, said the big reason the project was pushed back by two years is that the projected cost – north of $30 million just for the roads – aligned better with how much money is budgeted for the region in Fiscal Year 2028 for these projects, approximately $38 million, compared to the budget for Fiscal Year 2026.

“We delayed it out to 2028 because it was a better fit, and that was a win for us because we recently have been working with Three Rivers themselves and we’re going to partner with them to do the right fixes in the city,” Sorensen said. “It is, right now, the only project we have in what we call our road rehab and reconstruction template for 2028.”

Sorensen also said the road work will coincide with planned utility work on those roads in the Three Rivers area, something he said came up in conversations with the city.

“Sometimes, as we get into designing and developing projects, we find that more money may be needed for them, or in the case of Three Rivers, we start talking about locals and they inform us that they have a water main project coming up, or they’d like to do underground utilities with this,” Sorensen said. “We just met with the city, and it sounds like there’s some underground utility work that they would like to include with this project that they might not have been ready to do in 2026.”

“Obviously, we don’t want to go and reconstruct a road that we know is going to have to be dug up to replace underground utilities. It’s common sense to delay it so we can better incorporate all the work that needs to happen with one project.”

Three Rivers Department of Public Services Director Amy Roth confirmed that the city would be taking the opportunity to do utilities during the project, but denied that it was a reason for the delay of the project, saying MDOT was the one who ultimately made the call to delay it.

Sorensen said the project is currently in the design stages.

Sturgis, Centreville roads included in program draft

Other major projects involving St. Joseph County roads are included in the plan.

In Sturgis, 3.4 miles of M-66 from the Indiana state line to Lafayette Street will be getting road rehabilitation, with construction expected to take place in 2026. It is a brand-new addition to the plan, along with a project also scheduled for 2026 for M-60, M-86 and M-99 in both St. Joseph and Calhoun counties, which includes the stretch of M-86 in Centreville between Nottawa Street and Shimmel Road.

For the Sturgis project, Sorensen said it was originally scheduled for construction in 2025, but due to utility work that the city wants to add on during that time, it got pushed back to 2026 to “take that one-shovel approach.” The delay is expected to be reflected in next year’s five-year plan.

The Sturgis project is estimated to cost $11 million.

For the multi-county project, Sorensen said the work being done will be a chip seal project, and will include the stretch of M-86 in the Centreville. The goal of chip seal, he said, is to extend the life of the road pavement.

“We go in there, and if there’s any cracks in the road, we crack-seal it, and then overlay it with a chip seal, stone and fog seal. It helps extends the life of the pavement,” Sorensen said. “That helps keep us close to having 85 percent of roads in at least good or fair condition. When you go out and do mill-and-fill, and you replace asphalt, it’s good to come in five to 10 years later if it’s still in good condition, to chip seal it to help maintain that condition of the road that much longer.”

The overall cost for the chip-seal project is $2.2 million between all three roads.

The goal for all three projects, and all the projects listed in the plan in general, is to make roadways in the state better.

“Our goal is to maintain our roads in good and fair condition to the best of our ability,” Sorensen said.

State seeking comment on program

As the Five-Year Transportation Program is currently a draft and not 100 percent finalized, MDOT is currently accepting public comment on the plan.

Until Sept. 8, residents can provide comment by visiting, where they can either visit the interactive map provided and leave a project-specific comment, leave a comment with MDOT’s general comment form, send a comment by email to, or mail a comment to MDOT’s offices in Lansing.

Sorensen said public comments are vital to make the plan the best it can be.

“At the end of the day, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If we have a lot of participation from the citizens, it helps bring our attention to something we didn’t realize was a major concern for locals, but it also provides that information for the legislators to see that, hey, maybe there’s a need to adjust or increase funding somehow,” Sorensen said. “The more the public’s involved, and the more the public talks to the legislature, we can help improve the pavement and bridge conditions across the state.”

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or

One Reply to “Michigan Ave., Main St. in TR slated for 2029 reconstruct by MDOT

  1. 2028&29, MDOT couldn’t find a way to delay just a few more years when it will be back to gravel, then there would be no need for the milling portion of the project ergo more savings?!

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