The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is working to get the local trail system back to pre-flood condition. The DNR gave an update on the repair effort to the Houghton City Council at their regular meeting Wednesday.
Heavy rains last June caused severe flood damage to homes, roads, and trails. DNR Trail Specialist Ron Yesney said they have been going around to local municipalities to give them a progress report on the trails. “Most of our work has been centered on the restoration of the trails, repairing damage with priority being health and safety,” said Yesney.
In the city limits of Houghton, the DNR manages the Bill Nichols Trail, which they were able to get open for snowmobile season.
DNR Outreach Specialist Matt Torreano said all of the culvert work on the Canal Road was completed to get that trail fully open. “Our goal was to make sure the Bill Nichols Trail could connect to Keweenaw,” said Torrenao. “We are very sensitive to the economic issues around trails. Trails drive economies, especially locally in the UP, so we were very concerned that the snowmobile trails wouldn’t be open.”
Gravel, capping, and grading work will be completed this summer along the Bill Nichols Trail.
Near Houghton is another damaged site, the Pilgrim River Bridge in Portage Township.
“The Pilgrim River Bridge was inspected by an MDOT Rail Bridge Engineer in February and he determined that the bridge in its current form is not sufficient—and what that means is he’s inspecting it for rail use, so it’s a little complicated as to how it relates to pedestrian traffic because that’s what it’s really used for,” Torreano said.
As it stands today, Torreano said the bridge is going to remain closed until the DNR and MDOT can come up with a solution as to what standard it needs to be restored.
The DNR continues to monitor spring runoff but Torreano says the area appears to be past the point of concern for flooding caused by melting snow.