Esky River Bridge tops summer road work projects

ESCANABA — Road construction crews are preparing for another busy season. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Delta County Road Commission (DCRC) both work off their own five-year plans that roll from year to year.

Jody Norman, managing director of the DCRC said the biggest project this year will be Federal Forest Highway 13. The project will cost $3,101,357.35. The DCRC’s share will be $2 million. Construction will start mid-June, at the latest, and is 17.5 miles long. Roughly 12 miles of the work will be structural reconstruction due to the road’s poor condition.

“We got a lot of money going into Highway 13, so we have to back off on a lot of other things because of it,” said Norman. “But that is probably the worst road we have right now.”

Highway 13 will stay open during the construction process of crushing, shaping and paving.

“It’ll be down to one lane in areas,” Norman said. “it’ll be slow, but it will be open.”

Other DCRC projects this summer include County Roads 440, 495, 521 and 535.

“We are also paving County Road 440 on our own, starting at Highway 13, going east 2.5 miles, ending near Camel Riders Restaurant and Resort in Wetmore,” said Norman.

The project will cost the DCRC $250,000. Norman noted some residents in the area are helping out with the cost of paving.

New blacktop will be added on 4.87 miles of county road 495, from US 2 to Nahma. Construction will start June or July according to Norman. Cost of the project will be $486,700, DCRC is investing $50,000, Federal funding is $300,000 and State funding $136,700.

Construction on County Road 521 will start around August where the DCRC will crush, shape and pave just over three miles of road between county road 533 and M-69. The total investment is $775,500, with the DCRC putting $135,500 towards it.

In August County Road 535 will get new blacktop on 3.75 miles of road from US 2 to M-69 in Bark River. It will cost $433,200 in total, Federal investing $130,000, State investing $200,000 and the DCRC investing $103,200.

The DCRC maintains 1,250 miles of road in Delta County. Norman balances the budget between winter and summer work and saves money where he can. Money has to be available for both seasons.

“We already know what roads are problem children and we’re dealing with those now,” said Norman.

The DCRC bids out paving work because it does not have paving equipment. The road commission does much of its own chip-sealing, which is cheaper then paving and protects the roads better.

“If we spray oil, then put chips on top of it you’re locking in all of the oils that are in the blacktop from the top,” Norman said. “When you pave a road, it’s all nice and shiny black and everything is pretty. Well, in the first year it’s going to be a dingy black, second year it’s gonna be grey. So all that oil that was on top of that blacktop is now gone. By chip-sealing and covering it you don’t lose any of those oils in the asphalt. So basically we’re waxing our roads and extending their life. By putting a chip-seal on the road we’re adding at least five to seven years. So that’s why we do chip-sealing.”

The biggest project for MDOT in Delta County continues to be the US 2/US 41/M-35 bridge over the Escanaba River. The project is going into it’s third construction season.

“The current work zone cleanup is being undertaken to get the area reset for spring,” said Dan Weingarten communications representative for MDOT Superior Region. “We’ve had crews in there a few times during the winter to clean traffic control devices and keep the land separators tidy. Reflectors especially need to be cleaned up periodically as salt and grit coat them during the winter, making them harder to see.”

Construction will resume in May. The majority of the work will be done on the eastbound lanes. Items of work remaining include, paving eastbound lanes, completing final course of paving on westbound lanes, paving the non-motorized pathway, installation of guardrail and railing, finish painting the railroad bridge, staining of concrete on the river bridge, completion of pavement markings, installation of a new traffic signal at the intersection of westbound US 2 and County Road 426, and a bridge deck warning system.

“We hope to have all work completed by early July,” Weingarten said.

Additional major work in Delta County includes:

– M-35 double chip seal work from Gladstone to the Marquette County line. $2.9 million.

– 16 miles of resurfacing and joint repairs on US 41 between US 2 and Alger County. $3.4 million.

– Reconstruction of the Wisconsin Central Railroad crossing surface in Gladstone on US 2.

– Creation of a newly designed car pool lot on 3rd Avenue North, Meijer parking lot. A public-private partnership with Meijer.

MDOT will repair joints and resurface 9.1 miles on M-35 in Menominee County. This work will be north of Jimtown road to Dunkas road and the project will cost $2.1 million.

Major work in Schoolcraft County includes:

– Milling and asphalt resurfacing of 11.3 miles on M-94 from County Road 442 to the Indian River. $2.9 million.

– Between July and September, 4 miles of milling and asphalt resurfacing on US 2 from M-149 to the Manistique city limits. $2.6 million.

– Milling and asphalt resurfacing of 10.3 miles on US 2 from Gulliver to east of M-77. $2.6 million.

– From M-28 in Seney to the Schoolcraft-Alger county line, 12 miles of asphalt resurfacing on M-77. $1.8 million

– Reconstruct Canadian National Railway crossing surface on M-149 near Thompson.

– Reconstruct Canadian National Railway crossing surface on M-77 near Seney.

– Complete bridge painting and deck patching on M-28 over the Fox River, Seney. $188,000.

As spring progresses information and schedules may change. Many of the projects at this time have not had a pre-construction meeting to firm up dates.

“Our MiDrive website,, will have information posted on these projects … as we get closer to construction season,” said Weingarten. “That’s the best way for the public to keep up to date on where work zones will be this summer.”