Some great news for those making the drive to Indianapolis: The new section of U.S. 31 between South Bend and Plymouth will open this week.
INDOT announced Monday morning that section will open Thursday.
There will still be some restrictions in place near South Bend and Plymouth until construction is completed at the end of 2014. In South Bend, near the US-20 bypass, traffic will continue to be one lane in each direction. In Plymouth, the 7th road interchange will also remain under construction.
The new 20-mile stretch of divided highway will only be accessible with four entrance ramps.
Those three ramps on Kern Road, State Road 4 and U.S. 6 will be open on Thursday.
The fourth, at 7th Road near Plymouth, will be open by the end of the year.
Dick Sisti lives about a quarter-mile from the US 31-Kern Road interchange. He's been patiently watching crews make progress on the highway since 2008.
"I welcome it, and I'm amazed," Sisti says. "It's been a really interesting process to watch all the machinery."
INDOT crews say the stretch will make life easier, for commuters to and from Plymouth, or even as far south as Indianapolis.
But more importantly, they say, the new 31 is safer.
"Anyone who's driven south in the South Bend area, just south of the bypass, there are plenty of turnoffs -- people turning left, people turning right," says Matt Deitchley, spokesperson for INDOT Northwest. "There's been several accidents over many, many years."
One of the biggest changes coming Thursday is for those wanting to go south on the old US 31. Drivers will now have to get on the new highway, and exit on Kern Road.
That means Sisti and his neighbors will have to get on the New 31 if they want to get home. He says he's still not sure if this will change anything.
"Remains to be seen," Sisti says.
James Ewing also lives nearby, and says he's more or less unaffected by the new road.
"You can't stop progress," Ewing says. "That's the way things are going this day and age. They make changes, and we just have to live with it."
Live with it, by planning out a few extra minutes in your normal routine and getting used to the new 31.
"Changes are always difficult as folks get used to something new," Deitchley says. "So, number one, just be aware, be alert. Take it slow as you learn the new highway."
The last piece of the puzzle -- the stretch of 31 north of Indianapolis -- is scheduled to be completed in 2015.