CHAMPION - The trip through Champion along U.S. 41 will be a little gentler after some short-term inconvenience for drivers.
According to officials at the Michigan Department of Transportation, the sharp curves on the highway that start near the M-95 intersection and continue through Michigamme will be reduced over the next two years. This year, the construction zone will run from M-95 to Brown Road. Next year, the work will continue the rest of the way through Michigamme.
"What there is for this year is we're working on the one curve between Humboldt and Champion, which is what we call a 'broken back' curve that curves and then has a short straight piece and then curves again in the same direction," said Al Anderson, a construction engineer for MDOT. "It's going to be realigned and turned into a longer, more gentler curve."
Michigan Department of Transportation workers are making the curves on U.S. 41 near Champion a little easier to handle. The work, which is scheduled to be completed at the end of October and cost more than $10 million, will make the curves less extreme and will reduce the amount of dips in the road for a smoother, flatter ride. (Journal photo by Sam Eggleston)
In addition, Anderson said the crews are working to level the roadway grade, which will reduce the amount of dips through that stretch of highway and create a safer environment for drivers.
This year's work, which is scheduled to run until Oct. 31, shouldn't have too much impact on holiday drivers, Anderson said. Work won't be done during the afternoon of July 3 and will not resume again until July 6.
Drivers during normal work weeks haven't been seeing too much inconvenience either, Anderson said.
"This year's work is being done in stages with a temporary shift of traffic over to one side of the road while we reconstruct the other half first," he said. "Once we're done with that half and get it paved, we switch the traffic again and work on the other half to get that done."
At times, traffic will be stopped while work is being done. Anderson said the typical wait in either direction is between seven and 10 minutes.
In addition to reconstructing the road, MDOT is adding a separated bike path that will run from Champion to Van Riper State Park on the north side of U.S. 41.