Inspections coming for lift bridge

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Routine inspections will begin Monday on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, seen above. The estimated completion date is June 2.

HOUGHTON — Routine inspections of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge will begin Monday, leading to short closures over the next two weeks.

The evaluation of structural, mechanical and electrical components is done every five to seven years, said Jeff Barch, lift bridge engineering support with the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Ishpeming office.

“We get a team of consultants to come in and we go through all the electrical-mechanical and do a very in-depth structural overview for the bridge just to make sure everything’s operating as it should be,” he said.

The information from the engineering report is used to prepare for future projects on the bridge, Barch said.

There will be intermittent lane closures and frequent openings of the bridge between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. They will last about 10 to 20 minutes as consultants analyze the electrical systems.

“That’ll be no different than a routine bridge lift for a boat,” he said.

From May 21 through May 24, traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Inspectors will check the bridge deck looking for delaminated areas.

For a period, traffic on the eastbound M-26 connector ramp under the bridge will be stopped to allow inspections. Delays will be about 10 minutes, Barch said.

Between Monday and Friday, there will be some periods where the bridge will stay in an intermediate position. Boats will not be able to pass through during that time. During some periods, boaters will be required to give 30-minute advance notice of their approach. Notices will be issued on marine radio indicating these times.

Work is scheduled to be completed June 2.