HOUGHTON COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – The Portage Lake Lift Bridge is the only bridge like it in Michigan. The double-deck, vertical lift bridge built in 1959 is the only connection if you’re trying to head north of the bridge.
Houghton County Board of Commissioners are tossing around the idea of adding a second bridge across the Portage Canal. Last week, they met with State Senator Ed McBroom about the possibility.
“Well I think that for a lot of us, recognizing that there are a lot of people on the north side of the Portage Canal and that there’s only one bridge, one point of access there,” said McBroom (R) 38th District. “If you’ve been there during a busy time, it makes things complicated. Whether it’s a shop passing through or the bridge being shut down for construction or roads on either side and then suddenly, people can’t get to work. People who need to move towards the hospital which is on the north side of the canal, all of those things are difficult for the community there and a second crossing would be a tremendous benefit for both I think the sanity of traffic as well as just the health and safety of the health and population itself. It’s one of the most isolated populations in America as far as having an island population that’s only connected by a single connection point. I think it was first or second largest isolated population in America and that’s pretty notable and so for those reasons I think that discussing those are really important and I’m glad that the leaders in that community are being very forward thinking about this. They’re not waiting until the 11th hour. They’re saying there is spending coming out on transportation and infrastructure and this is a need that our community has had for a long time and so they’ve reached out to Representative Markkanen and myself and the state to move those discussions forward.”
McBroom says there are a lot of studies and efforts that need to take place in order to move forward. Some of that process includes; deciding a location of the new bridge, community and state support, funding for the project and figuring out new road configurations.