A Bump in the Road, Part 3

This is UGN News Director Mike Hoey writing to you.

Roads are in rough shape all over Michigan.

But they’re especially poor in Marquette County’s smallest township.

In Part 3 of my week-long series, ‘A Bump in the Road’, I take a look at Ewing Township and just what makes their road situation so bad.

Ewing Township is on the Delta County line, next to Rock.

And you have to drive through Rock if you want to go there.

There’s no direct way to drive there from anywhere in Marquette County.

The Escanaba River serves as a barrier separating it from its nearest in-county neighbor, Wells Township.

There are also no paved roads, and the dirt roads they do have are in bad shape.

Marquette County Road Commission member Dave Hall lives there.

He used to be a school bus driver in the area for the Mid-Pen School in Rock.

Hall says when he drove his bus, it used to take extra-long to let kids off at every stop because of dust kicked up from the surface.

He says if a logging truck came by, you wouldn’t have been able to see anything.

Township Supervisor Arnie Sirtola says many of the roads have poor surfaces, and it’s getting harder and harder to maintain them.

Because of the roads, residents don’t have access to basic amenities like ambulance service, bus transportation or delivery trucks to bring in things like heating oil.

Sirtola says they’ve all recognized for about the last 10 years that some changes have to happen.

Hall and Sirtola took me for a drive on the main road in town.

The video I shot while we were in Dave’s truck was extremely shaky.

I wasn’t shaking my camera.

The uneven road surface was shaking the truck.

There’s also very little ditching, which means the roads flood easily.

Plus, 2 creeks that West Maple Ridge Road intersects pose a safety hazard.

Hall says the ditches on either side of the road have eroded badly at the creeks, so that the creek beds are just inches from the road surface.

He says he hopes no one will get injured or killed in a crash there before something’s done about it.

But with only 160 people living in Ewing Township, it’s hard to come up with road dollars when funding everywhere is scarce.

Road Commission engineer and manager Jim Iwanicki says they’ve been working on the situation in Ewing Township for years now, and with funding the way it is right now, he thinks they’ll have to keep working for years more.

Hall, Sirtola and others are determined to fix the situation.

And I’ll take a look at the work they’re doing Thursday night in Part 4 of ‘A Bump in the Road’.