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Portage Lake Lift Bridge repair work update

HOUGHTON, Mich. - Work on the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) repair project on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge between Houghton and Hancock is moving into the next phases.

Work on the bridge deck finger joints has finished and all lanes have been reopened. After work below the deck is completed next week, the bridge deck can be lowered for the winter, while other work on the structure continues.

Remaining work on the bridge includes replacing the lower buffers, bridge grating and steel repairs, and lift motor replacement. Some of this work will require intermittent lane closures.

During motor replacement work beginning in mid-January, contractors plan to close the two inside lanes on the bridge and use multiple late-night closures of the bridge, each lasting about 15 minutes, to allow crews to safely hoist and lower equipment. These closures will affect vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic. Emergency vehicles will be able to pass. The dates for the lift motor work will be announced when the schedule is confirmed.

During the lower buffer replacements, planned for the spring, there will be multiple 30-minute early morning closures between 12:15 and 5:15 a.m. Dates for these closures will be confirmed later.

Snowmobile traffic on the lower bridge deck will be allowed this winter. Once the canal is iced in, ending the boating season, the bridge can be parked for winter and the trail can be installed. At the end of winter, the trail will have to be removed by around March 20 to allow for testing of the new motors. The motor testing is tentatively planned for the last week of March, but this schedule may change.  

MDOT is investing about $3.9 million in structural, mechanical, and electrical improvements on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. Work includes motor replacement, finger joint repairs, structural steel repairs, interior painting of the machine rooms in the bridge towers, and other miscellaneous repairs and upgrades.  
 

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