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Coast Guard restricts canal traffic

Recreational boats will not enjoy the right-of-way passing under the Portage Lake Lift Bridge during peak hours until the end of September at least. The canal is a federal waterway, meaning the Michigan Department of Transportation, and county and local officials had to seek an exemption to give vehicular traffic priority. MDOT Spokesman Dan Weingarten says that has been granted.

That is under the Coast Guard jurisdiction and we had to ask them for that restriction. They’ve allowed us to put it in place.

Until September 24th, pleasure craft will not automatically garner a raising of the bridge during the morning rush, 7:30 to 8:30, or afternoon drive time, 4:30 to 5:30. The rule is not in effect on the weekend.

Weingarten says there is no estimated completion date for the work yet.

As we have looked at the finger joints that are being replaced, underneath there is more structural steel work that needs to be done than they thought, which has led to delays. It’s going to take longer than we initially thought, but we don’t have a revised schedule now for when the lane closures can be removed.

Other projects are on time, including the culvert replacement at Quincy Creek. The closure of M-26 is throwing a wrench into the Tour Da Yoop Eh, though. The original route had the bikers returning to Houghton/Hancock Wednesday on that stretch of road. A detour to US-41 up the steep Calumet Hill is not being considered at this time. The primary alternative is to have racers dismount from their bikes, use a small strip of private property to walk around the work and then continue down M-26 towards Dollar Bay.

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