ESCANABA - As summer draws near so does roadwork season. To prepare the public, representatives from the Michigan Department of Transportation's Superior Region were in Escanaba Friday for their annual public input meeting.
No road construction projects are planned for Delta County in 2014, however, the replacement of the Escanaba River Bridge is scheduled to take place in 2017. The replacement - which will include raising the bridge and railroad crossing seven feet; creating a box culvert under the railroad crossing for pedestrian traffic; and the creation of a 10 foot-wide, separated path on the bridge itself for pedestrians - is expected to cost $19,875,000.
"All of our 2014 projects (in the Crystal Falls Transportation Service Center jurisdiction), they all add up to about the cost of this bridge replacement," said Dave Bradley, of the Crystal Falls TSC, which includes Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson, Menominee, and Delta Counties.
Between 24,000 and 26,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily, which concerned some local residents in attendance at Friday's meeting despite the fact the project will not begin for three more years.
"We're trying to keep detouring to a minimum because the detour itself is a long detour route, and I think the plan that we have in place is going to be acceptable," said Vince Bevins, MDOT Region Planner.
In the more immediate future, road construction projects will begin in Menominee and Schoolcraft counties in 2014.
In Menominee County a 10.23 mile length of U.S. 2 from Powers to the Delta County line will be resurfaced. The project is expected to run from May 19 to July 18.
Two portions of M-35 in Menominee County will also receive attention this summer, including work on a 9.42 mile stretch between Ingallston and Jimtown Road. The project is designed to be a longer-term fix and will include removing portions of the pavement and resurfacing, drainage improvements, and creating 8-foot paved shoulders. Currently the shoulders of the road are composed of three feet of pavement and five feet of gravel.
"Any project that we do from Menominee to Escanaba - basically as the projects happen we're going to try to get the funding to widen the pavement to eight foot for bicyclists," said Bradley.
The second portion of M-35 receiving attention is the bridge at Turtle Creek. However, no changes to the surface of the road will be made.
"Last summer there was an accident where a truck hit one of the rails and damaged it. They did some emergency repairs last summer but this project is in place to replace the bridge railings," Bradley.
In Schoolcraft County, which is part of the Newberry TSC's jurisdiction, four projects are planned - all in the greater Manistique area, with the majority of work being done on portions of U.S. 2.
The Manistique River bridge on U.S. 2 will receive patching and joint replacement, but the work is not expected to cause bridge or lane closures. All repairs to the bridge are expected to be completed by mid August.
The roadwork on U.S. 2 will continue with a 5.1 mile stretch from the bridge to M-149 that will be resurfaced this summer, and construction on a four mile stretch from M-149 to east of the Delta County line.
Residents looking to visit Indian Lake State Park or otherwise travel on M-149 should be aware that bridge work and culvert replacement is planned for the bridge over DuFour Creek.
"It's kind of a complicated little job. It's not a big, expensive job, but there's poor soils in that area," said Pete Paramski, Newberry TSC manager. "It's going to involved steel pilings ... some unique construction methods."
A detour route around the project is also planned. The expected completion date of the bridge work is Aug. 28.