Waara: Sharon Avenue nearly ready to open

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Crews work to repair Sharon Avenue in Houghton Wednesday. The street could be reopened to traffic sometime late Thursday, Houghton City Manager Eric Waara reported to the City Council on Wednesday.

HOUGHTON — Sharon Avenue could be open sometime late Thursday, City Manager Eric Waara said during a flood recovery update at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

“We’ve got one more piece of storm sewer we want to get in when there’s no traffic on the road,” he said.

Waara said the Department of Public Works (DPW) and contractor worked well together, trading services and hauling material to get traffic open as soon as possible.

While the area awaits a federal disaster declaration, the city is continuing to work with Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The city is also revising estimates to incorporate damage that hadn’t been evident during the original triage immediately after the flood. One example is Bridge Street, where damage didn’t become evident until after cars began driving on the road and temperatures climbed.

“That was a relatively simple $40,000 fix when you looked at it the first day,” he said. “Within five days after the number was published, you’re now looking at a block-and-a-half of work instead of half a block.”

Most of the city’s response has come through the DPW. It’s also been assisted by two contractors — one working on Sharon Avenue and one working behind the strip mall on Ridge Road. Waara said the city is also trying to do repairs while also staying eligible for funding.

“It’s still a lot of work to do, but hopefully within the next week or so, we’ll have a lot of clarifications from the folks at Federal Highway (Administration) for our major streets, and the (Department of Environmental Quality) and different organizations as to what we should be doing, what we can be doing,” he said. “There’s a lot of things we’d like to do, but we just want to make sure we’re not going to jeopardize our reimbursable status for some of these repairs.”

The city will have a meeting with the DEQ and property owners around Huron Creek Friday to discuss what rebuilding and restoration will work long-term.