US 31 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Pays Tribute to the Late Richard W Mangusby Les Turner & Amy Wenger on August 27, 2014
A portion of the long and historic thoroughfare that connects South Bend to Indianapolis became a little easier to navigate this afternoon, with the unveiling of a 20 mile stretch of US 31 between South Bend and Plymouth.
The event was commemorated with a ribbon cutting ceremony that took place in Lakeville, where Governor Mike Pence was joined by US Representative Jackie Walorski, members of the US 31 Coalition, local dignitaries, and several members of the Richard Mangus family. The celebration was fittingly situated in the Lakeville community, as Mangus was a Lakeville native who served with distinction in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1972 until 2004. Mangus, who passed away in 2008, was an ardent supporter and proponent of the US 31 corridor upgrade, and even maintained his residence along the road for many years.
In recognition and remembrance of Mangus's efforts, a segment of US 31 which passes through Lakeville was christened the "Richard W. Mangus Memorial Highway." The named roadway begins at the State Road 4 intersection and continues to Lake Trail. The objectives of the US 31 project are to reduce congestion, improve overall traffic flow patterns, and enhance continuity of commerce and regional travel within the state of Indiana and points beyond. It is financially supported in conjunction with the 2006 lease of the Indiana Toll Road, a part of the Major Moves initiative.
The new section of US 31 freeway is a four-lane, divided highway that, at its northernmost point, begins at the US 20 bypass and is currently open to the US 30 interchange near Plymouth. Traffic can access the new roadway at three locations - Kern Road south of South Bend, State Road 4 in Lakeville, and US 6 in LaPaz. A fourth entrance and exit point is now under construction near Plymouth at 7th Road, and is expected to be open later this year.
Governor Pence noted, "The new road shortens the trip between Indianapolis and South Bend by 30 minutes one way," which is an advantage that Hoosiers will appreciate. Also, "When the project ends in late 2015, 32 traffic lights will have been eliminated."
Ron Mangus, son of the late Richard Mangus, added "Given the number of trips my father made to Indy as a state representative, the new road would have saved him over 900 hours of travel time." Mangus didn't have the opportunity to witness his vision being realized, as he died shortly before groundbreaking took place.
Representative Walorski expressed appreciation for the measures of safety that the new road will provide, observing "The new highway will make it safer to travel. We have moved traffic away from dangerous intersections such as Roosevelt Road."
"Indiana is now, and will continue to be 'The Crossroads of America,'" declared Governor Pence. "If you are going to be 'The Crossroads of America,' you better have the roads to back it up." Some interesting facts and figures shared during the opening US 31's local connection included the revelation that Indiana is tied for first in the nation for interstate travel, as well as third in interstate freight. It was also shared that 75 percent of the American population lives within a one-day drive of Indiana.