The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Public hears options to fix road into Porkies


August 17, 2019


SILVER CITY — The Ontonagon County Road Commission and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources agree something must be done to protect County Road 107, the main entry road on the east end of the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park, but the question remains what course of action to take.

High water levels and whipping winds off Lake Superior have undermined approximately 1.65 miles of the road, which is also known as the 107th Engineers Memorial Highway.

Seven proposals are under consideration and a public hearing to discuss them was held Wednesday morning at the Ontonagon Area School. Two dozen members of the public, five road commission board members and four DNR officials along with state Rep. Greg Markkinen, R-Hancock, and Tom Casperson, representing state Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, heard the presentations.

Mike Maloney, county engineer, said all the proposals are costly. The most extensive one would re-route the road, and the more than $11 million price tag would also include wet land abatements and acquisitions. Relocation might also impact a municipal utility, recreational snowmobile trail and overhead electric utility.

Another proposal would riprap the entire stretch in one phase at a cost of $6.125 million, or in two phases for $6.486 million.

One proposal includes several minor relocations of 6 to 10 feet south of the existing highway at $10.567 million.

Two other proposals would have major realignments west or east of the South Boundary Road, along with riprap.

Presently, because of the immediate need, riprap stone is being placed 250 feet east and west from the concrete bridge deck at the Union River. Shoreline armoring will continue west of the bridge, protecting sections of the county road immediately vulnerable to damage in seasonal Lake Superior storm events, Maloney said.

“Short term mitigation may be able to maintain access for 1 to 3 years,” Maloney said. He also stressed that protecting the Big Iron Bridge must be a priority.

Present work on the road will continue through October.

At the morning hearing, the public saw a presentation of the plusses and minuses of each proposal.

The DNR also held a hearing Wednesday night and although that hearing was primarily for the public’s input to help shape future management planning at the state park, a breakout section concerned the highway erosion.

Although many governmental entities have comments and input, Maloney made it clear: “It is Ontonagon County’s road and it is our decision.”


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