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Winter pier work to conclude soon

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Crews continue work on Houghton’s pier project Thursday.

HOUGHTON — Winter construction for Houghton’s pier project should wrap up soon, City Manager Eric Waara said during Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Pilings will be put in on the north side of the library for the next week or two, Waara said.

“They’ll be done with pile driving operations for the winter, then come back later on in March and start working on other things,” he said.

One problem cropping up is the unknown location of AT&T cables going under the Portage Canal near the Lakeshore Center. AT&T has yet to provide the exact locations of the approximately seven cables, which the city is trying to avoid damaging during piledriving.

The project would need an alternate design for about a 70-foot span if the cable locations are not found, Waara said.

Funded through a $4 million Michigan Economic Development Corp. grant, the project includes the construction of a large pier and public space at Mattila Square.

The council also approved an equipment order for two electric vehicle charging stations downtown. The $167,938 project is mostly funded through $109,438 from a Charge Up Michigan grant. A Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (egle) program, it is intended to build up infrastructure for DC charging vehicles across the state to facilitate long-distance trips with the vehicles. The city’s $35,000 match will come from sitework and the electric service. UPPCO will also contribute $23,500.

Equipment will cost about $80,000, for which the city will be reimbursed through the grant. By getting the order in early, it is hoped the city can get ahead of any supply-chain issues, Waara said.

The council also approved the addition of Brandon Charbonneau to the Houghton Fire Department.

At the request of the city’s auditor, the council also raised the threshold at which purchases need to be capitalized from $500 to $5,000.

“This policy required the auditors to review every purchase of $500 or more in many of our funds and took them a lot of extra time and cost the city extra money for their time,” Clerk Ann Vollrath said in a letter to the city.

The Michigan Department of Transportation also provided a construction plan for the next five years. The work on Townsend Drive/College Avenue project is the only large project on the horizon, Waara said.

In 2024, MDOT will replace the elevators going up to the towers on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. Unlike last year’s work, it is not expected to have much impact on traffic, Waara said.

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