U.S. Route 31
|Length:||1,280 mi (2,060 km)|
|Existed:||November 11, 1926 – present|
|South end:||US 90 / US 98 in Spanish Fort, AL|
|North end:||I-75 in Mackinaw City, MI|
|States:||Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan|
U.S. Route 31 or U.S. Highway 31 (US 31) is a long north–south highway connecting southern Alabama to northern Michigan. Its southern terminus is at an intersection with US 90/US 98 in Spanish Fort, Alabama. Its northern terminus is at an interchange with Interstate 75 (I-75) south of Mackinaw City, Michigan.
US 31 once crossed the Straits of Mackinac by car ferry to intersect US 2 north of St. Ignace, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula and then formerly reached Mackinaw City along the southern approaches of the Mackinac Bridge (which has been taken over by I-75). It also formerly entered downtown Mobile, Alabama, via a long bridge over Mobile Bay.
US 31 begins in Spanish Fort, Alabama at a junction with US 90 and 98. Formerly, the route originated in Mobile, co-routed with US 90 and 98. Whereas Interstate 65 leaves the Mobile Metropolitan Area via a route on the west side of the city, US 31 leaves the Mobile area via a route on the eastern side of the metro area, passing through Bay Minette. I-65 has effectively replaced US 31 as the preferred route for through traffic, making US 31 a local connecting route.
At Flomaton, US 31 begins a 15-mile virtual east-west concurrency with US 29 that continues to Brewton. North of Brewton, US 31 assumes a northeast-southwest trajectory, passing through rural areas and small towns in Escambia and Conecuh Counties. In Evergreen, US 31 north and US 84 share a brief concurrency heading north and east out of town.
Although US 31 parallels Interstate 65 throughout Alabama, the two routes do not directly junction each other until they reach Pintlala in southern Montgomery County, which is 164 miles north of Mobile. The two routes do not junction each other again for another 22 miles. US 31 is routed along a bypass of Montgomery, the state capital. At Prattville, this route intersects U.S. Route 82.
Between Saginaw and Warrior, US 31 is routed along multi-laned routes as it passes through the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area. It passes through suburbs such as Alabaster, Pelham, Hoover and Vestavia Hills. In Homewood, US 31 merges with U.S. Route 280 and is routed along the Elton B. Stephens Expressway, a 2.6 mile limited access highway that connects the south suburbs with downtown Birmingham. US 31 and 280 are co-routed until the expressway junctions I-20/59 just northeast of downtown. This interchange serves as the western terminus of US 280, and north of the interchange US 31 is routed along surface streets as it proceeds northwardly out of Birmingham.
US 31 continues to be routed along multi-lane streets and highways as it continues north of Birmingham, meeting the eastern terminus of I-22 just south of Fultondale, and passing through the small town, along with Gardendale, Morris and Kimberly, also closely paralleling I-65. At Warrior, the roadway shrinks to two lanes. Two miles north of Warrior, US 31 and I-65 begin a three-mile concurrency between the interstate route's Exits 284 and 287. The interstate route was constructed over US 31's roadway through this segment.
Between the split from I-65 and Garden City, US 31 is routed along a narrow two-lane route. North of Garden City, and passing through Cullman, Hartselle, Decatur and Athens, it is routed along multi-lane and often divided roadways.
At Athens, I-65 and US 31 begin a concurrency that continues to just north of the Tennessee state line. In both states, US 31 is largely unsigned.
In addition to junctions previously cited, US 31 junctions U.S. Route 80 in Montgomery, Interstate 459 in Hoover, U.S. Route 78 in Birmingham, U.S. Route 278 in Cullman, U.S. Route 72 Alternate in Decatur, and U.S. Route 72 in Athens.
Given US 31's former importance as a major connecting route in Alabama, in several cities it is known by the name of the city it leads to. For example, south of Montgomery it is still named Mobile Highway, and northwardly it is referred to as the Birmingham Highway. Similarly, south of Birmingham it is referred to as Montgomery Highway, and northwardly it is referred to as the Decatur Highway. Throughout north Alabama plaques and signage refer to the route as the Beeline Highway.
The first mile of US 31 in Tennessee is concurrent with I-65. From that point it parallels I-65 to downtown Nashville. At Pulaski the southern terminus of US 31A in Tennessee. US 31 continues due north through Lynnville, Columbia, Spring Hill, Franklin and Brentwood to Nashville. The route splits into US 31E and US 31W in Nashville.
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US 31W closely follows I-65 from the Tennessee state line, through Bowling Green, to Elizabethtown. From here, it diverges to the west and passes through Fort Knox. North of Fort Knox, US 31W joins with US 60 in Kentucky and it roughly follows the Ohio River into Louisville. In southwestern Louisville, US 31W is called Dixie Highway. It is the major commercial street in this area.
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Formerly, the reunion of US 31E and US 31W took place in Sellersburg. US 31 travel concurrent with I-65 in Jeffersonville, after having crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky. It splits off north of Jeffersonville at Clarksville and proceeds to Indianapolis. At I-465 on the south side of Indianapolis, US 31 is routed onto I-465 on the east side of the city. US 31 exits I-465 in extreme southern Hamilton County, and continues northward. US 31 then passes through or near Carmel, Kokomo, Rochester, Plymouth and, Lakeville. As approaches southern South Bend it travels concurrent with US 20 in Indiana and proceeds westwards then north on the St. Joseph Valley Parkway, bypassing South Bend and proceeding into Michigan.
US 31 follows the St. Joseph Valley Parkway northward into southern Michigan to an interchange with Napier Avenue. The highway follows that road and then merges with I-94 near Benton Harbor–St. Joseph to run concurrently north to I-196. US 31 then runs concurrently with I-196 along the shore of Lake Michigan north to the Holland area. US 31 departs from I-196 as a divided highway with many Michigan lefts north to Grand Haven, where it becomes a freeway again. This freeway continues northward through the Muskegon area until Ludington, where the freeway ends and US 31 turns east concurrently with US 10 to Scottville before turning northward again toward Manistee.
At Beulah, US 31 eastward into Grand Traverse County. South of Traverse City, US turns northward on M-37, running concurrently the city. Next to Grand Traverse Bay, US 31/M-37 turns easterly on M-72. The three highways run together along the bay, M-37 turning northward in Traverse City, and M-72 turning easterly at Acme. US 31 continues northward along the eastern shore of Grand Traverse Bay, turns eastward through Charlevoix and follows the Little Traverse Bay into Petoskey. There, US 31 intersects the northern end of US 131 before rounding the bay and heading northward and inland toward Mackinaw City. US 31 ends at a directional interchange with I-75 south of Mackinaw City.
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Before the Interstate era, US 31 was a major north–south highway. I-65 supplanted US 31 and either US 31W or US 31E as a through route between Mobile and Indianapolis. South of Indianapolis, all segments of US 31 not traveling concurrently with I-65 have been reduced to roads largely of local use. I-196 now carries the route of US 31 between Holland, and St. Joseph, Michigan. All of US 31 between Indianapolis and Ludington, Michigan, is divided highway—some of it is freeway, including a bypass route of South Bend, Indiana. The segment between Indianapolis and South Bend is scheduled for upgrade or replacement with Interstate-standard freeway. Environmental impact studies have shown that the fifth phase of the then-to-be-constructed freeway segment between Napier Avenue near Benton Harbor, Michigan, and I-94 may not be complete until 2015.
The portion of I-75 north of US 31's northern terminus toward the Mackinac Bridge was designated part of US 31 prior to the 1990s and was US 31's northernmost portion to be built to freeway status. Since its truncation at the I-75 interchange, however, the northernmost segment of the US 31 freeway ends near Ludington.
In Alabama, US 31 follows portions of the Pulaski Pike beginning at the Alabama–Tennessee State line at Ardmore, and was originally routed on what is now called Alabama State Route 251 (SR-251). It follows roughly along the Decatur Stage Road to the site of Rhodes Ferry in Decatur, and also intersected and follows portions of the Stouts Road to Birmingham. From Birmingham, it follows portions of the Columbiana Road and roughly parallels it in Hoover along the present widened route and intersects with the Ashville-Montevallo Road or the Cahaba Trail (SR-119) and follows it on a branch to Calera. US 31, beginning in Chilton County, follows a branch of the Talladega-Montgomery Stage Road, a road that went from Talladega and went south from Columbiana to near present-day Clanton, Verbena, and Montgomery, and was operated by Jemison, Ficklin, & Powell, who operated stagecoaches on the road. US 31 in Prattville came to the site of Reese's Ferry on the Alabama River, where it was replaced by the present bridge near Prattville. From Montgomery, US 31 follows parts of the Federal Road, and is presently routed on the Greenville Branch of the Federal Road, and follows the Montgomery-Mobile Road through Conecuh, and Escambia Counties and also intersects with the Pensacola Trading Path or the "Old Wolf Trail" from Burnt Corn.
At its southern end, US 31 originally traveled further west than it currently does, passing through Spanish Fort, Alabama. It crossed Mobile Bay via several narrow bridges, including the Admiral Raphael Semmes Bridge, a drawbridge spanning the Tensaw River. It turned north along the east bank of the Mobile River, crossing the river into Plateau, over the former Cochrane Bridge, another old drawbridge where the current Cochrane–Africatown USA Bridge is now located. It then turned south to end at US 90. It now officially ends at US 98 in Spanish Fort.
- Southern segment
- US 90 / US 98 in Spanish Fort
- US 29 in Flomaton. The highways travel concurrently to Brewton.
- US 84 southwest of Evergreen. The highways travel concurrently to east of Evergreen.
- I‑65 on the Hope Hull-Montgomery line
- US 80 in Montgomery.
- US 82 in Prattville
- I‑65 north of Prattville
- I‑65 in Clanton
- I‑65 in Calera
- I‑65 in Alabaster
- I‑459 in Hoover
- I‑65 on the Hoover-Vestavia Hills city line
- US 280 in Homewood. The highways travel concurrently to Birmingham.
- US 78 in Birmingham
- US 11 in Birmingham
- I‑20 / I‑59 / US 280 in Birmingham
- I‑22 near Fultondale
- I‑65 in Birmingham
- I‑65 in Smoke Rise. The highways travel concurrently through the town.
- US 278 in Cullman
- I‑65 south-southeast of Lacon
- US 72 in Athens
- I‑65 in Athens. The highways travel concurrently to Ardmore, Tennessee.
- US 64 in Pulaski
- US 412 in Columbia
- US 431 in Franklin. The highways travel concurrently through the city.
- US 41 / US 70S in Nashville. The highways travel concurrently through the city.
- US 70 / US 70S / US 431 in Nashville. US 31/US 431 travels concurrently through the city.
- US 31E / US 31W / US 41 / US 431 in Nashville
- Northern segment
- US 31E / US 31W / US 60 in Louisville
- I‑65 in Jeffersonville. The highways travels concurrently to west of Jeffersonville.
- I‑65 south-southeast of Crothersville
- US 50 in Seymour
- I‑65 in Taylorsville
- I‑74 / I‑465 / I‑69 / US 36 / US 40 in Indianapolis. I-74/US 31/US 36/US 40 travels concurrently through the city. I-465/US 31 travels concurrently to Carmel.
- I‑65 in Indianapolis
- I‑74 / US 421 in Indianapolis. US 31/US 421 travels concurrently to Carmel.
- US 52 in Indianapolis. The highways travel concurrently to Carmel.
- I‑70 in Indianapolis
- I‑69 in Indianapolis
- I‑465 / US 52 / US 421 in Carmel
- US 35 east of Kokomo. The highways travel concurrently to north-northeast of Kokomo.
- US 24 in Peru
- US 30 east of Plymouth
- US 6 southeast of La Paz
- US 20 in South Bend. The highways travel concurrently through the city.
- I‑80 / I‑90 in South Bend
- US 12 in Bertrand Township
- I‑94 in Benton Charter Township. The highways travel concurrently through the township.
- I‑94 / I‑196 in Benton Charter Township. I-196/US 31 travels concurrently to Laketown Township.
- I‑96 in Norton Shores
- US 10 in Amber Township. The highways travel concurrently through the township.
- US 131 in Petoskey
- I‑75 in Mackinaw Township
- McNichol, Dan (2006). The Roads that Built America. New York: Sterling. p. 74. ISBN 1-4027-3468-9.
- Droz, Robert V. "The Big Table". U.S. Highways: From US 1 to (US 830). Retrieved July 4, 2006.[self-published source]
- Michigan Department of Transportation (2015). Pure Michigan: State Transportation Map (Map). c. 1:975,000. Lansing: Michigan Department of Transportation. §§ E10–G8, G7–N8. OCLC 42778335, 900162490.
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