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“Painful” Reconstruction Of US-41 Coming In 2021

The Michigan Department of Transportation held a public meeting at the Houghton City Center last night where residents voiced their concerns and made suggestions that will be taken into consideration for a major reconstruction project that will take place on US-41.

Our little town is growing up. And with that will come some growing pains.  “It’s going to be a little bit painful. It’s a tight corridor to work in, but when it’s finished, I think people are going to be really happy with it,” said Houghton City Manager Eric Waara, discussing the proposed lane changes that will take place on the campus of Michigan Tech, and stretching to the downtown’s edge.

Waara said, “In 2021 of course they’re going to redo College Avenue and Townsend Drive. It’s a project that’s been a long time coming. People have been talking about this forever.”

Many came to last night’s meeting with concerns that MDOT officials were eager to learn about. Some were concerned that they might lose yard space from the widening project, others were concerned that tree’s would need to be removed, and many engaged in the discussion of where to place sidewalks. A founding reason for the project is to increase pedestrian safety- both College Ave and Townsend Drive have excessive foot traffic, and the department believes that the answer to pedestrian safety is to funnel the traffic flow into a single file lane.

“We’re going to drop one lane as you progress eastbound, and as you get to College Avenue, which is currently a two lane, is going to be a three lane, with the center lane being for left turns. As you enter campus, Townsend Avenue- we plan on reducing it to one lane in each direction and having turn lanes and indirect left turns to calm traffic where there’s a lot of pedestrians,” said MDOT Costs and Scheduling Engineer Joe Kauppila.

He says that this meeting helps in the overall planning process.  “It’s kind of an introduction to the project and a discussion of the configuration of the lane changes that we’re proposing for that year,” Kauppila said.

Now that MDOT has had a chance to gather information from residents, engineers will begin adding adjustments. Execution of the project is still two years away.  Kauppila said, “The plan right now is a 2021 construction year, which we will start about as early as we can in 2021. We’ll go through the whole summer and will be ending probably late fall.”

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