There’s a push underway to build a second road to connect L’Anse and Baraga.
Since the villages were founded in the 19th century, the only direct connection between them has been the cut in the Red Rocks and the causeway across the head of Keweenaw Bay now occupied by US-41.
That route has been closed several times in the past four years – twice by serious traffic crashes, and once by a natural gas explosion and fire.
Harry Miron from the Baraga County Road Commission says the only local alternative is a narrow, dirt road in the summer… which isn’t plowed in the winter… [MIRON A].
The Michigan Department of Transportation’s only official detour is via Bruce Crossing – a 100-mile trip that takes nearly two hours from L’Anse to Baraga.
Closing the highway isn’t just a major inconvenience. It’s a public safety issue, with Baraga County Memorial Hospital on the L’Anse side of the bottleneck, and the region’s only ambulance service on the Baraga side.
Miron brought a concept to both the Baraga County Commission and the L’Anse Village Council last evening…
Miron says the goal would be to build a 17-mile Class A road using existing rights-of-way that would become part of the state highway system. The actual route would be open to more discussion.
The problem is that the state has no money to build it, and neither does the county.
Miron is hoping that the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community will support the project, and that could open the door to some federal grants. He’ll bring the discussion to a Tribal Council meeting later this month.
The US-41 concern is made somewhat more urgent because of the high Lake Superior water levels.
Several times in recent years, storms have pushed water across the road.
If levels continue to rise, the existing road will be further at risk.
The Michigan Department of Transportation is investigating a long-term potential project that would raise the level of the roadway.