M-65 detours cause concern

ALPENA – On April 26 an approach collapsed on the bridge on M-65 that allows traffic over the Thunder Bay River. Because of prior, emergency detour planning a temporary detour was established, but it appears it may be in place for the remainder of the summer.

The detour has caused concern because side roads away from the detour have seen a large increase in truck traffic and not only is the added volume taking a toll on the roads, but is effecting people who live on them. To help solve the problem the Alpena County Road Commission passed a resolution during its meeting on Tuesday that will prohibit truck traffic in some areas being affected.

Managing Director Larry Orcutt said the detour, which redirects motorists around the bridge via Long Rapids Road, Bolton Road and Long Lake Road, was established during detour planning that would need to take place during an emergency. He said he believed the current detour would be in place only for a short time, but now he it has been brought to his attention that it will remain until the bridge project is complete around Aug. 30.

“We have met with an MDOT representative last year and picked out alternate routes for emergency situations that could be used and this is in fact is one of them,” Orcutt said. “We saw after the first weekend that people were going to take a shorter route than the one the detour offers. We met with MDOT along with the Presque Isle Road Commission to discuss other alternatives, they went out and reviewed the area but they decided they didn’t want to make a change.”

Orcutt said the added traffic on the roads along the detour and on alternate routes being used by motorists could be negatively impacted by the higher volume, especially by large trucks. He said any damage caused to the streets on routes not designated detours by MDOT will not fixed or paid for by the state. Orcutt said this is a concern because the county can’t afford to fix any damage caused by the unexpected increase in the flow of traffic.

“We work hard to try to keep our road system in the best condition we can with the funding available, so any added deterioration without funding is a great concern,” Orcutt said. “We have met with and expressed our concern to MDOT about having the detour being selected for a short-term route and having it turn into a long-term route. We still haven’t had a lot of success that will protect our system, but I hope in the future we might be part of the process before the final decision is made and the long-term route is officially named and after the fact.”

Long Rapids Township Supervisor Howard Lumsden was at the meeting on Tuesday and urged the road commission to take measures to help limit the traffic. He said he lives on Leer Road and has seen an increase in the amount of cars and trucks and expects to the numbers to continue to increase as the summer progresses. He said the streets are narrow and often covered with gravel and when trucks go down them it creates a dust trail that could become a problem.

“The conditions out there right now is very dusty and it appears it is going to stay this way all summer unless we are very proactive on dust control,” Lumsden said. “If we don’t find a way to control it the people that live on these roads will be in dust 24 hours a day. I’m also concerned about the safety factor. It is a farming area and you have the park, so there is chance of people getting hurt, so it needs to be addressed. I’m very pleased with the board’s action.”

The resolution makes it illegal for trucks to use sections of Maple, Lane Leer, Carr, Posen and Greenwoods roads. The only exception is for publicly owned highway repair or maintenance trucks.

Orcutt said the Michigan State Police and the Alpena County Sheriff Department will be made aware of the new regulations and that it will be enforced as best it can.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com