Michigan Senate committee holds hearing on U.P. winter weather issues

The Michigan Senate Transportation Committee held a special hearing this afternoon about this winter’s severe weather crisis in the Upper Peninsula.

Senator Tom Casperson of Escanaba chairs the committee. He called for the hearing in Lansing after he and U.P. state Representatives saw winter weather damage in Ishpeming last week. Video conference sites were set up in five U.P. communities so that residents didn’t have to travel in the wintry conditions.

“We have definitely been busy taking care of issues,” Marquette Township public works superintendent Kirk Page said. He attended one of the video conference sites. “We’ve had service line freeze-ups; we’ve had pressure sewer breaks, which has probably been the largest single events that have happened.”

Some Marquette County officials did make the trip to give testimony. The Houghton County and Gogebic County emergency managers said they don’t know how deep their frost is. The tubes they use to measure the frost can’t reach down that far.

“We’re starting to see pressure sewer freeze-ups, which are extremely difficult to deal with, so we’re hauling sewage for our customers,” Page said.

The U.P. state lawmakers on hand for the hearing are asking Governor Rick Snyder to declare an emergency disaster and offer financial help to U.P. communities affected by weather–related infrastructure problems.