Portage Lake Pier project moving forward – $4 million in grant funds awarded

Construction on a new pier on Lake Portage is set to begin in an matter of weeks.

The structure will reach from Michigan Tech’s campus, past the Portage Lake District Library

To the lift bridge that connects Houghton to Hancock.

Michigan’s Strategic Fund approved a 4 million dollar grant to help the city complete the 4.9 million dollar project.

We talked to Houghton. City Manager Eric Waara to get details earlier today.

“What happened when we were ready to bid this last year, the estimate was $3.8 million.  What happened in the intervening time and with COVID-19 and supply chains and everything else – the price of steel doubled.” Waara said. “But the Michigan Strategic Fund board, they were the final say. Basically, once you have all your ducks in a row, you have to go and pitch it to Lansing. They decide whether or not this is warranted and they funded it.”

The city will pull from a variety funds to pay for Houghton’s share of the project, he said.

“You know the original grant package that we were offered was 90 % grant 10% match. They were able to fund it under a different program, which is about 75% grant, 25% match. (So we) built a capital stack from some of our existing funds, water fund, sewer fund – because all of these things are getting improved.” he said. “Once you’re digging in a certain area, it’s best to  do what work you can.  So we were able to stack those up to come up with the match.”

City funds will be used to reorganize parking lots near the canal and an update to water system infrastructure in addition to building the pier.

Waara said he hopes to have the project completed by next summer.