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Looking at Lakeshore

Marquette commission to consider emergency work

Rocks and ripped-up blacktop are seen along a stretch of Lakeshore Boulevard between Hawley and Wright streets in Marquette on Wednesday. After two major storms battered the area and its coastline over the past week and a half, Lakeshore Boulevard between Hawley and Wright streets is expected to remain closed for many months, with the Marquette City Commission at its Monday meeting planning to consider emergency armoring work for the road. Relocation efforts for that strech of road will begin this summer, city officials said. (Journal photos by Cecilia Brown)

MARQUETTE — After near record-high lake levels and two major storms battered Marquette and its coastline over the past week and a half, a portion of Lakeshore Boulevard won’t be reopening this winter, with emergency work along the stretch of road to be considered by the Marquette City Commission on Monday.

Specifically, the commission will consider the approval of up to $64,400 for emergency work by Smith Construction on the stretch of roadway between Wright and Hawley streets to place additional armoring in the area to “ensure that the integrity of the road is preserved,” as that section of road “experienced catastrophic failure during the storm,” with waves in excess of 20 feet directly impacting the shoreline, the commission’s agenda materials state.

“We believe it is essential that we take the steps necessary to stabilize this section of shoreline,” City Manager Mike Angeli said in an email Friday. “By adding this extra armoring we’re confident that we are doing what is needed to secure important city infrastructure until such time when we develop a long-term plan for this area.”

With the “major damage” from the storms occurring along Lakeshore Boulevard between Wright and Hawley streets, the road will remain closed for the coming months, Angeli said in an email Wednesday.

“In the past we’ve been able to clean it up and reopen the road,” Angeli said. “We did close it for the entire winter last year as it became too costly to clean up after every storm.”

When past clean-ups have been done, it’s cost between $3,000 and $6,000 to clean up after each event, city officials said previously.

“This time the damage was more extensive — the blacktop was actually ripped up in several areas — and this section of Lakeshore will need to be closed for the remainder of this winter, and also probably most of next summer as we begin relocating it inland,” Angeli said.

The first phase of the $12.3 million relocation project for the stretch of Lakeshore Boulevard between Wright and Hawley streets is planned for the spring, and will consist of relocating the road as well as placing temporary boulders along the shoreline, city officials have said.

The road will be shifted around 300 feet inland, elevated 4 to 6 feet, with the multi-use path being moved closer to the shoreline.

At this time, the damage in that area has not impacted relocation plans, Angeli said.

“We understand that access to this road and the shoreline in general is very important to this community and that we are doing everything that we can to keep it open,” he said. “We continue to plan for the future of this area utilizing the best possible information.”

Other areas of the road weren’t hit quite as hard as the area between Wright and Hawley streets, Angeli said.

“Shiras Park and the rest of our beaches received much less of an impact from the storm,” he said, noting Shiras Park’s driveway is expected to reopen soon and city officials saw “lesser damage” on the stretch of Lakeshore Boulevard between Wright Street and Fair Avenue.

However, it’s not the first time the commission has had to make a decision on emergency shoreline armoring work along Lakeshore Boulevard this year, as prior to the recent storms, the section of Lakeshore Boulevard between Pine Street and East Fair Avenue faced significant shoreline erosion after strong winds and waves occurred on Oct. 16.

Due to that storm, the commission approved emergency work in late October for $154,000, which aimed to armor the stormwater outlet near Lakeview Arena, as well as 1,400 feet of shoreline along the stretch of road between Fair Avenue and Pine Street.

According to Angeli, the efforts along this portion of the road may have helped during the two recent storms.

“It looks like the rock that we just put in did their job and protected most of the shoreline, however, we are still assessing that. There was also erosion near the stormwater outlet behind the Lakeview Arena,” he said. “The outlet itself is intact, however, we also need to assess this further and will likely need some minor repair here.”

However, “the coast, including portions of the new armoring did experience some damage and must be repaired and strengthened to maintain its effectiveness,” the city agenda states.

The city’s current plan and focus for Lakeshore Boulevard between Wright Street and Fair Avenue is to protect the infrastructure in that area, which includes the road, the multi-use path, stormwater outlets and Lakeview Arena, Angeli said.

It’s important to recognize, Angeli added, that “any shoreline work is not only complex, but also very expensive.”

“We can have the best-made plans but if we don’t have the money to do it the project can land in limbo until the dollars are available,” he said. “We are constantly looking for alternative funding sources so as not to put the entire finical burden on the taxpayer.”

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.