Marquette Township Board to consider underpass design

A rendering of what a proposed tunnel beneath U.S. 41 would look like is shown. The Marquette Township Board will consider naming the structure ‘Pete’s Pass’ in honor of local developer Peter O'Dovero, who made a large donation to the project in addition to providing a “critical easement” on the north side of U.S. 41. (Rendering courtesy of Marquette Township)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Township Board will discuss design features for a proposed multi-use tunnel beneath U.S. 41.

The board will also consider naming the $2.5 million project “Pete’s Pass” in honor of local developer Peter O’Dovero, during its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Marquette Township Community Center.

The tunnel, which will be located under U.S. 41 east of the Menards store, would connect the south Noquemanon Trail Network to the Little Presque Isle public trail system, and also would serve as a snowmobile crossing Dec. 1 to April 1.

O’Dovero donated a “large financial contribution” as well as a “critical easement” on the north side of U.S. 41, according to a memo from Township Planning and Zoning Administrator Jason McCarthy.

The easement will “ensure that both snowmobiles and non-motorized users will have safe passage through our commercial district for years to come,” the memo states.

“Staff consulted with Mr. O’Dovero and asked him if it would be acceptable to name the underpass ‘Pete’s Pass’,” the memo states. “He indicated that the naming would be appropriate for him and his company.”

The Marquette Township Planning Commission unanimously approved the tunnel design concept and recommended the township board consider it for approval, the memo states.

Funding for the project consists of a $1.35 million Transportation Alternatives Program, or TAP, grant; a $449,515 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation; a $300,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant; and about $200,000 in matching funds raised by 54 organizations, businesses and individuals, according to an April 18 Mining Journal article.

The underpass will be built in conjunction with a $6.7 million MDOT project expected to begin this year to reconstruct the U.S. 41 corridor between Marquette County Road 492 and Brickyard Road, replacing the two signalized intersections at Brickyard Road and County Road 492, near Target and Walmart, with roundabouts.

The board will also consider a planning commission recommendation regarding storm water drainage.

The recommendation would provide the township board “with the ability to assess needed repairs and maintenance to a resident’s property taxes, as necessary when made by the Marquette County Road Commission,” using an “existing mechanism,” a March 14 memo from McCarthy states, According to the memo, many drainage swales, or infiltration basins designed to manage water runoff, have become obstructed over time “either by natural occurrences, them not being maintained or because they were filled in purposely by property owners.”

“Further, driveway culverts that were initially installed have either been filled in and/or driveways have been replaced and the culvert was not reinstalled,” the memo states, “further impeding stormwater conveyance.”

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.