If you drive regularly through Grand Rapids you know that one of the worst traffic choke points in the city is the notorious S-Curve. Situated in downtown, crossing the Grand River and at the junction with the equally busy Interstate 196 the S-Curve is a snarly, gnarly mess.

But is it so bad you'd classify it as an 'Urban Hell?'

The internet has deemed it as such. Reddit hosts a discussion on Urban Hells that highlights

all the hideous places human beings built or inhabit. Come here for aesthetic appreciation of the darker side of the cities, towns, and villages

The S-Curve in GR appears to meet that standard as it was shared on the subreddit recently.

Those in the know shared why this stretch of highway can be so miserable

It’s so much more built up now but it’s still a tricky corner for a lot of folks. Accidents all the time.

Also two terrible exits right at the beginning (or end).

People approach at 70-80mph and the safe speed can range from 50-65mph depending on which curve you're on and whether you're on the inside corner or not.

There's a merge on entry, mid-corner, and exit.

Weather can drastically lower the safe speed

131 around Grand Rapids is such a stupid highway. Why is traffic and freight driving north/south through West Michigan forced to drive through the heart of downtown Grand Rapids?

That last point is quite salient. Grand Rapids, unlike many other urban areas, does not have an adequate bypass of the downtown area. Consider in Lansing, downtown can be passed on either I-96 or I-69 while Flint downtown traffic uses I-475 and Saginaw downtown traffic uses I-675 while through north-south traffic bypasses those cities on mainline I-75.

S-Curve Grand Rapids
Google Maps Street View

That's not the case for Grand Rapids all the north-south traffic passing through West Michigan is using 131 right through the heart of downtown as the rest of the freeway network, M-6, I-196 and I-96 is oriented east-west with no viable bypass around the heart of town.

Because of that design oversight, the stretch of US-131 through Grand Rapids, call it M-6 to I-96, is the busiest freeway in Michigan outside of Metro Detroit - and an Urban Hell.

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