Houghton street projects sent to state

Damage is seen Wednesday on Dodge Street in Houghton. The Michigan Department of Transportation is reviewing repair packages submitted for the street last week. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Garrett Neese)

HOUGHTON — Permanent repairs to some of Houghton’s busiest streets are coming closer to construction.

City Manager Eric Waara met with representatives from the Economic Development Administration, which has mitigation funds available for projects related to the June 17 flood.

Repair packages for the city’s federal aid roads — Dodge Street, Bridge Street and West Sharon Avenue — were turned into the Michigan Department of Transportation last week.

MDOT is reviewing them on an expedited schedule due to time sensitivity, Waara said. The roads will be bid out as a combined package.

“Those being on our major street system, those have to go through MDOT,” he said.

The city will be conducting repairs over the next couple of weeks on areas such as Clark Street.

Waara met with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Wednesday morning. The week after Labor Day, a program delivery manager will set up with an office in the city to review the sites, look at the progress and planning for major projects.

The city’s department of public works has been able to fix smaller projects on its own, Waara said.

“They look kindly on it when we fix it versus having to go out for bids and everything like that, because it’s usually quite a bit more economical to when public works crews can do something that is a permanent repair versus having to go through a large contracting process,” he said.

The city will still have to go through the bid process for bigger projects, defined as being more than $250,000.

The way the city employees have tracked their time is close to how FEMA has done it, Waara said.

“We’re not going to have to re-create the wheel with how we’ve been accounting for stuff so far,” he said.

Responding to Councilor Dan Salo, who said several residents had approached him, Waara said the area by Montezuma Avenue and Dodge Street cannot be repaired until the state approves.

The Montezuma project was bid out last week as part of a larger package on the trunkline with Quincy Hill and a couple of other projects, Waara said.

“On Montezuma Avenue and within the right-of-way, that’s MDOT’s purview,” Waara said. “We put the original patch on that about six hours after the rain stopped, but from then on, that’s MDOT’s to deal with.”

Waara said contractor Payne & Dolan had attempted to bring in more workers from Wisconsin, but Michigan’s road workers union blocked that attempt.

“One paving contractor said they will be accepting no other work this year,” Waara said. “They’re just working on their own stuff and that’s that.”