At Wednesday’s Houghton City Council meeting, Manager Eric Waara said that AT&T is now delaying the use of divers to find a bundle of underwater cables responsible for phone service across the Keweenaw Peninsula. Teams will not be available until the beginning of March. After repeated inquiries over the course of months, crews working on the pier development project still do not know the exact location of the cords, which travel under the Portage Canal to the company’s station in Ripley.
Waara says the delays now ensure that the project is falling behind, and that means cost overruns for a job that has already felt the pinch from burgeoning expenses.
Waara says it is possible the city will need to appeal directly to the Michigan Public Service Commission.
The MEDC pulled back funding in 2020 at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and reapproved the project in 2021. By then the cost estimate had jumped by over $1 million. Both the MEDC and City of Houghton increased the amount they were contributing to the project to ensure it could finally go ahead.