Short term, long term solutions both needed for embattled roadway
Lakeshore Boulevard, without a doubt, is one of the most scenic corridors in the city of Marquette. As its name says, it runs along the Lake Superior coastline from South Front Street north to Presque Isle Park.
Even when various obstacles such as trees, buildings, rocks and other objects obscure the view of the lake, it’s a nice stretch to drive.
At least it used to be.
Don’t get us wrong. There’s still plenty of real estate on which to travel on Lakeshore, such as along Founders Landing and Mattson Lower Harbor Park. However, a big swath of corridor from East Fair Avenue to Hawley Street is closed to traffic following several big storms that hit the area recently, causing substantial damage to parts of Lakeshore.
The Marquette City Commission on Monday voted to support an emergency bank stabilization work to repair damage to the section of Lakeshore between East Fair and Pine after the first round of emergency work was authorized in October.
The latest round will involve placing about 70 loads of rock on Lakeshore between Shiras Park at Picnic Rocks to Wright Street to restore the armoring along that part of the boulevard to protect the coast and future storms.
Not included in this work, though, is the more heavily damaged section between Wright and Hawley streets, which resembled an area struck by an earthquake following the late November storm.
Mayor Jenna Smith and commissioners Paul Schloegel, Fred Stonehouse and Peter Frazier voted in favor of the emergency work. Voting against it were Mayor Pro Tem Jenn Hill and Commissioner Andrew Lorinser. Commissioner Evan Bonsall was absent and excused from the meeting.
Hill and Lorinser expressed their desire for long-term planning, while Smith and the other commissioners acknowledged the need for a long-term plan as well as the immediate work.
We believe everyone is correct.
The damaged section needs to be addressed now to avoid further damage. On the other hand, short-term fixes are not the only part of the solution.
The underlying issue has to be examined, so a natural approach is needed too.
The city is going forward with a relocation project to move part of Lakeshore Boulevard inland and away from the effects of mighty Lake Superior. 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 also will include placing temporary boulders along the shoreline.
In fact, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded a $2.5 million coastal resiliency grant to the Superior Watershed Partnership to assist the city with the project. The Lake Superior Coastal Resiliency Project includes approximately 4,200 feet of shoreline adjacent to Lakeshore Boulevard and will create approximately 28 acres of public green space.
We believe the city must address the damage quickly, but also sustainably for the long run. The city can ill afford to keep throwing money at Lakeshore repairs every year, so it’s good to hear the commission is planning a work session down the road — or boulevard — to discuss the matter.
Without a viable Lakeshore Boulevard, Marquette will lose an important part of its soul.