KEWEENAW PENINSULA — As Keweenaw residents welcome the change of season, municipalities across the area are shifting gears into spring mode. Within the next few weeks efforts of Upper Peninsula Road Commissions will be transitioning from snow removal, to spring and summer road repairs and the Houghton County Road Commission is looking forward to busy season.
Not quite a year after severe flooding washed out many of Houghton County’s roadways, recovery is still underway.
“As a county there was over hundred million dollars in damage, there was 30 million dollars is just what the Houghton County Road Commission experienced in damage,” said Kevin Harju, an engineer with the Houghton County Road Commission. “We were able to repair about half, nearly 15 million dollars worth of the damage. It’s going to be an extremely busy summer trying to do those repairs. There’s a lot of projects that will be bid out here shortly for construction to start once weight restrictions are off. Hopefully we can get a lot of those competed.”
This is the first spring thaw since the Father’s Day Flood, and County Road Engineer Kevin Harju says that we are still discovering some aftermath effects in the public infrastructure.
“We’d like to have the public remain patient with us, there will be a lot of delays in construction zones and there may be additional damage,” said Harju. “Were having water pop up in places this past weekend that we typically don’t have. That’s probably because there’s a few pipes that are damaged in those areas or road damage and ditches that have filled up through that flood. It’s going to be a trying spring for everyone and hopefully it can be as good to us as it possibly could.”
Most major roadways in the county were reopened before snowfall began in the fall. With a couple of roads still closed, the county plans to be back to normal by the end of this summer.
“We still have a couple of roads that are closed to traffic,” Harju said. “Mason Hill, that’s closed. Paradise Road, that’s another primary road closed. That’s going to have a real large concrete structure out in it. That project alone over the pilgrim river is going to be about 1.2 million dollars. When we can get all of the primary roads open, it will be great because we like to have the roads open, not only for the public but for emergency purposes. Ambulances, police, fire fighters and so forth.”