‘Excellent melt’ preventing flooding

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Matt Torreano, an easements and lands analyst in the DNR’s parks and recreation division in Marquette, discusses upcoming work on recreational trails damaged in last year’s floods.

LAKE LINDEN — So far, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hasn’t spotted any complications from the spring melt on the Lake Linden-area railroad grades damaged in last year’s flooding.

“We’ve had a really excellent melt this year, considering the hazards that are out there from the flood of last year,” Matt Torreano, an easements and lands analyst in the DNR’s parks and recreation division in Marquette, told the Lake Linden Village Council Thursday.

Torreano said routine amounts of ponding had been seen, but nothing upstream of the former railroad grades. Although ponding was spotted to the north in Schoolcraft Township, that was the result of an ice-plugged convert, which remedied itself the next day, Torreano said.

The DNR is doing aerial surveys of the grades two to three times a week until runoff is no longer a factor or the trees start leafing.

The DNR is also soliciting the public’s help in spotting problems, such as new washouts, slumping of trails grades or blocked culverts. To report spring runoff concerns in Houghton County, contact Torreano at 906-226-1342 or John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer, at 906-250-7260.

Torreano said conservative estimates place the damage of the Lake Linden section, running approximately from Dollar Bay to Calumet, at about $15 million.

Sites were prioritized last year based on life, health and safety, with lesser priorities of trail continuity and downstream effects, Torreano said.

The highest priority site in Lake Linden will be the complete stabilization of a site on the lower grade roughly north of E Street, where a culvert failed last year. Two other sites on the upper grade where a culvert was compromised are moderate priorities, Torreano said.

Work on the grades will be eligible for reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the next three years. The DNR has gotten about $2.2 to $2.3 million in reimbursements so far.

“The hope is that we’re going to spend up the rest of our construction dollars we have this year working on these high-priority sites, and then shift to a design phase, and then in the following two years, ’20 and ’21, really pound out the construction aspect,” he said.

Torreano estimated it will take four to five years to fully restore the trail.