HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – The Michigan Department of Transportation says work on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge is moving into the next phases.

They have finished work on the bridge deck finger joints and all lanes are now open. Work below the deck will be completed then the bridge deck can be lowered for winter while other work continues. MDOT says remaining work includes replacing the lower buffers, bridge grating and steel repairs as well as lift motor replacements. Some of the work will require intermittent lane closures.

Motor-replacement work should begin mid-January and contractors plan to close the inside two lanes on the bridge and use multiple late-night closures of the bridge that will last 15 minutes each to allow crews to safely hoist and lower equipment. Closures will affect vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Emergency vehicles will be allowed to pass. Dates for the lift motor work will be announced when the schedule is confirmed.

The lower buffer replacements are planned for spring and involve multiple 30 minute early morning lane closures between 12:15 AM and 5:15 AM. Dates for the closures will be announced when they are confirmed.

Snowmobile traffic will be allowed on the lower bridge deck this winter. Once the canal ices over, 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. Motor testing is planned for the last week of March but is subject to change.

MDOT is investing about $3.9 million in structural, mechanical and electrical improvements on the bridge.