KEWEENAW BAY - This summer, a 1.6-mile stretch of U.S. 41 about 5 miles north of Baraga will be realigned.
"The reason for the project is the shoreline cliff is eroding at a slow rate," said Al Anderson, Michigan Department of Transportation Construction Engineer out of Ishpeming. "It's getting to the point where within the next 10 years we feel like we would have needed to move the road away from the lake, and therefore this summer, when we were able to secure funding, we took the project."
The project has a total cost of $2.3 million, and will likely last most of the summer.
Daily Mining Gazette/Michael H. Babcock
A 1.6 mile stretch of U.S. 41 about 5 miles north of Baraga will be realigned this summer due to the shoreline cliff eroding.
"They'll probably start early next week," Anderson said. "We'll work in the middle portion, doing some clearing off and moving some utilities and then get the middle portion of the road completed and then later in the summer work on tying the ends, and that will basically be the time when the impact on traffic will be."
Shoulder closures, traffic shifts and occasional lane closures with flag control will be used at that time.
The project area begins just before the south entrance to Old US Highway 41, going by the Peter R. Kamarainen Roadside Park, Sturgeon Road and coming back together by Kelsey Creek.
The work is being done by MJO Contracting, Inc. of Hancock, and includes the obliteration of the old road, but won't have a profound effect on residents on the stretch.
"None of the houses are directly affected," Anderson said. "We had to purchase property from some property owners."
MDOT was made aware of the need for this project after a study done by Michigan Technological University.
"Approximately three years ago we had an evaluation done by experts at MTU and they felt that we had an issue that would be a problem within approximately 10 years," Anderson said. "The cliff is sandstone cliff, so it's all rock, so there's a slow progression of erosion and a 100-foot move should keep us away for many, many years."
The problem is isolated to this stretch of road. For up-to-date information on the project throughout the summer visit michigan.gov/drive.
Michael H. Babcock can be reached at email@example.com.