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Further trail repairs planned for 2021

HOUGHTON — More repairs are planned for Department of Natural Resources trails damaged in the Father’s Day Flood.

Houghton County Commissioner Glenn Anderson, who attended a DNR presentation at a recent Houghton County Recreational Authority meeting, gave an update at the county board meeting Tuesday.

The Dollar Bay-to-Lake Linden grade is expected to be bid out sometime in March or April, Anderson said. Estimated at $8 million, the project will be bid out in six sections due to its size.

“Depending on how the bids come in, and how busy the contractor is, that may or may not get completed (this year), but at least the hope is it would be available to reopen for the snowmobile season,” he said.

OHM from Hancock, which is the design contractor, is 90% complete with the engineering plans as of last year, Anderson said.

Most work on the Houghton-to-Chassell grade was completed in a $500,000 project last year. Two culverts and two washouts still need to be repaired, and are expected to be repaired this spring. The DNR plans a ribbon-cutting ceremony once the work is complete, expected to be in May or June, Anderson said.

Work has yet to start on the Freda trail. The DNR has hired an engineer to inspect the Salmon Trout River Bridge to see what damage was done during the flood.

The Baraga-to-Arnheim trail is under contract for flood repairs. Contracts have also been set for construction for the trestle of the Carp River railroad grade near Keweenaw Bay. Engineering is also complete for a bridge on the Sturgeon River Sloughs. That bid should be awarded sometime this spring.

“The trail, at least from Baraga to Chassell for the DNR trail, should be open for next winter, based on those two action items,” he said, while noting snowmobilers would not yet be able to connect to trails to Painesdale or Twin Lakes. “It’ll be one route in, one route back, but at least there’s progress being made on that.”

A brand new trail could also be in the works. Franklin Township will host a public presentation at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at the township hall about a potential non-motorized trail following the Mineral Range railroad grade between Hancock and Lake Linden.

“That could be quite interesting, considering the fact that the DNR initiated discussion on that possible project,” Vice Chair Tom Tikkanen said.

Other county reports:

– Tikkanen said the county transfer station had diverted more than 20 tons of recyclables from the landfill in its first year. He also thanked State Sen. Ed McBroom and State Rep. Greg Markkanen for their work towards getting Calumet a $250,000 grant towards remediation of the site of the Fifth Street fire. He also met with Markkanen over the holidays for preliminary discussions about a second bridge over the Portage Canal.

– Building Inspector Todd LaRoux reported on building permits over the past year. In 2021, the county issued 392 building permits (up from 293 in 2020) with a construction cost of $46.7 million, versus just over $33 million in 2020. One hundred and fifteen of the permits were for homes; in 2020, the number was 43. Total electrical, mechanical and plumbing permits jumped from 1,055 to 1,206. The number of new addresses created for the 911 system nearly doubled, going from 75 to 144.

– Clerk and Register of Deeds Jennifer Kelly said the number of concealed pistol licenses have grown from 392 in 2017 to 741 in 2021. Kelly performed 49 weddings over the past year, a personal record.

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