Rising rivers cause road problems

By Adelle Whitefoot

ISHPEMING – With the weather warming to summer-like temperatures, snow has been melting fast, causing flooding around Marquette County.

The flooding has caused water over some roads and other roads to be washed out. County Road 478 (Greenwood Reservoir Road) was closed to traffic by the Marquette County Road Commission Monday until further notice. Around 5 a.m. Monday it was reported that 4.3 miles east of County Road 601 the road has been washed out completely, leaving a 5-foot gap in the road.

“We went and looked at it this morning and water levels seem to be about the same height as yesterday,” said Mike Harrington, director of operations and maintenance at the Marquette County Road Commission. “We are hoping that by the end of the week that the water will be down enough that we can get a new culvert in. If not, then hopefully we can get one in at the beginning of next week.”

When the first gap was discovered Monday, there was water covering the road .3 miles east of County Road 601, but by 3 p.m. a hole in the road had developed, Harrington said.

“We filled that gap full of rock and it held overnight,” Harrington said. “We closed the road, but people are still driving through it.”

People within the 4-mile stretch of County Road 478 between the two gaps should not be driving on the road because it is considered closed, Harrington said. Operating a vehicle on a closed roadway is a traffic violation. Near the second gap there is also about 6 inches of water on the road over about a 40-yard area. The water running over the road is from unnamed tributaries of the Black River.

In Harvey, the Chocolay River is under a flood warning until 2 a.m. Wednesday. According to National Weather Service Meteorologist Keith Cooley, observations done this morning showed that it looked like the river was beginning to fall a little bit.

“There shouldn’t be a whole lot more snow in the runoff area,” Cooley said “So we’re kind of thinking that it’s going to start making its way down from where it’s been.”

Cooley said that, fortunately, the predicted rain in the coming week will be light enough that it won’t have a big impact on the river flooding, but the additional rainfall will keep the rivers a little bit higher.

In Gogebic County, the National Weather Service says a flash flood warning is in effect amid concerns about the stability of a dam on the Presque Isle River in Marenisco Township. They warn that flooding could inundate M-64 as well as some other area roadways.

In Ontonagon County, a 20-mile stretch of M-28 between Bruce Crossing and Bergland has been closed due to flooding of the Ontonagon River. That section of the road was closed at 2 p.m. Monday and will remain closed until further notice. According to the Michigan State Police, it is unknown when it will be opened again.

In the western part of the U.P., there are flood warning for the Sturgeon River near Alston and Chassell, Paint River in Crystal Falls, Black River near Bessemer and Trap Rock River near Lake Linden.