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U.S. Route 31 is a long north-south highway connecting northern Michiganmarker to southern Alabamamarker, with its northern terminus at Interstate 75 near Mackinaw Citymarker, Michiganmarker, and southern terminus at the combined U.S. Route 90 & U.S. Route 98 at Spanish Fort, Alabamamarker. This highway formerly reached Mackinaw City along the southern approaches of the Mackinac Bridgemarker (which has been taken over by Interstate 75) in the north and downtown Mobile, Alabamamarker in the south via a long bridge over Mobile Baymarker.

Route description


Within the state of Alabamamarker from Birminghammarker north to Decaturmarker, the highway is known as "Decatur Highway." From Birminghammarker south to Montgomerymarker, US 31 is known as "Montgomery Highway." North of Decatur and south of Montgomery, the highway has the old name of the "Bee-Line Highway".

In downtown Birmingham, the junction with Interstate 20/Interstate 59 serves also as the northwestern terminus of U.S. Route 280. US 31 and US 280 overlap on the Elton B. Stephens (Red Mountainmarker) Expressway, leading to the city's southeastern suburbs.

US 31 is concurrent with Interstate 65 between Blount Springsmarker (exit 289) and Haydenmarker (exit 287) due to I-65 using US 31's route to traverse several hills in northern Alabama. The routes also overlap for from mile marker 354 in Athens, Alabamamarker to Tennesseemarker mile marker 1 in Ardmoremarker. There are no confirmation signs pairing the two routes in either state on the concurrency, aside from the directional signs at the entrance ramps in Athens and Ardmore. The concurrency, however, is shown on official maps of both states. The original routing of US 31 between the two locations still exists as Alabama State Route 251 and Tennessee State Route 7 between Athens and Ardmore.

US 31 is paired with the unsigned Alabama Route 3 throughout this state.


The first mile of US 31 in Tennesseemarker is concurrent to I-65. The route splits into U.S. Route 31E and U.S. Route 31W in Nashville.


U.S. Route 31E stays east of Interstate 65 in Kentuckymarker, passing through Glasgowmarker and Bardstownmarker. It enters Louisvillemarker from the southeast, where it is named Bardstown Road for most of its length in the city.

U.S. Route 31W closely follows Interstate 65 from the Tennessee border, through Bowling Greenmarker, to Elizabethtownmarker. From here it diverges to the west and passes through Fort Knoxmarker. North of Fort Knox, US 31W joins with U.S. Route 60 and roughly follows the Ohio River into Louisvillemarker. In southwestern Louisville, US 31W is called Dixie Highway. It is the major commercial street in this area.

U.S. Route 31E and U.S. Route 31W rejoin in Downtown Louisville at Second Street, and immediately cross the Ohio River on the Clark Memorial Bridgemarker.


US 31 overlaps Interstate 65 in Jeffersonville, Indianamarker, after having crossed the Ohio River from Kentuckymarker. Next, it splits off north of Jeffersonville at Clarksvillemarker and proceeds to Indianapolismarker. 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 (coincidentally at Exit 31) in extreme southern Hamilton County, and continues northward. US 31 then passes through or near Kokomomarker, Rochestermarker, Plymouthmarker, and Lakevillemarker. As US 31 approaches southern South Bend, Indianamarker it converges with US 20 and proceeds westwards then north on a freeway (the St. Joseph Valley Parkway), bypassing South Bend and proceeding into Michiganmarker.



In the 1930s, US 31 continued at Saint Ignace across the Straits of Mackinac, and junctioned with U.S. Route 2 (Mackinac Trail and what later became M-123).

Before the Interstate era, US 31 was a major north-south highway. Interstate 65 supplants US 31 and either 31W or 31E as a through route between Indianapolismarker and Mobilemarker. South of Indianapolis, all segments of US 31 not coinciding with Interstate 65 have been reduced to roads largely of local use. Interstate 196 now carries the route of US 31 between Holland, Michiganmarker, and St. Joseph, Michiganmarker. All of US 31 between Ludington, Michiganmarker, and Indianapolis, Indiana, is divided highway—some of it is freeway, including a bypass route of South Bend, Indianamarker. The segment between South Bend and Indianapolis is scheduled for upgrade or replacement with Interstate-standard freeway (see U.S. Route 31 in Indiana). Environmental impact studies have shown that the fifth phase of the then-to-be-constructed freeway segment between Napier Avenue near Benton Harbor, Michiganmarker, and I-94 may not be complete until 2015 (see St. Joseph Valley Parkway).

The portion of I-75 north of US 31's northern terminus toward the Mackinac Bridgemarker was designated US 31 prior to the 1990s and was US 31's most northern portion to be built to freeway status. Since its truncation at the I-75 junction, however, the most northern segment of US 31 freeway ends near Ludington.

At its southern end, US 31 originally went further west than it currently does, passing through Spanish Fort, Alabamamarker. It crossed Mobile Baymarker via several narrow bridges, including the Admiral Raphael Semmes Bridge, a drawbridge spanning the Tensaw Rivermarker. It turned north along the east bank of the Mobile River, crossing the river into Plateau, Alabama, over the Cochrane Bridge (removed), another old drawbridge where the current Cochrane-Africatown USA Bridgemarker is now located. It then turned south to end at U.S. Route 90. It now officially ends at U.S. Route 98 in Spanish Fort, Alabamamarker.


US 31 has three planned relocation sections in Northern Indiana. See U.S. Route 31 in Indiana.

Bannered routes

See also

Related routes

Suffixed routes


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