UPPER PENINSULA, Mich (WJMN) – Although we may be experiencing some colder temperatures currently, the warmer months are just around the corner. Warmer weather means construction season is in sight and Dan Weingarten, the MDOT communications representative says that drivers will be seeing plenty of orange cones out and around the U.P. very soon.

“As far as projects, we are starting lots of projects,” Weingarten said. “We’ve got a few that have already started and many more that are starting within the next couple of weeks. Overall we’ve got around 15 projects on roads and bridges across the Upper Peninsula slated for the summer. So it’s going to be a busy construction season here in the Upper Peninsula.”

Local 3’s Haley Schoengart sat down with Weingarten and he laid out four major projects yoopers can be on the lookout for this upcoming summer:

  • M-28 Munising rebuilding: MDOT will continue the two-year, $15.5 million project to rebuild M-28 between Brook Street and Commercial Street in Munising and resurface the highway from Commercial Street to the east of Christmas. The project includes a shared-use pathway along the north side of M-28 from Bayview Drive to the M-28/H-58 intersection. A roundabout was constructed in 2020 at the M-28/H-58 intersection. The project also includes city utility work and streetscape improvements. The project will combine needed road work with replacement of aging water main. The streetscape project will create aesthetic improvements for the downtown while the roundabout will decrease driver confusion and make traffic flow smoother and safer. Intersection safety improvements, eliminating a city street access point, and extending a three-lane section will increase safety for all users. The work this season started this week and will run through November.  One lane will be open in each direction with directional detours.
  • US-41/M-28 in Marquette: This $9.2 million project will involve resurfacing 2.8 miles of highway, along with building a non-motorized pathway in Marquette county. The work is scheduled for May-Nov, 2021, and will require lane closures, local detours, and some night work. The project will help maintain a vibrant commercial area — improving ride quality and extending the life of the pavement on the busiest route in the UP with average daily traffic counts of up to 33,000. Construction is being staged to minimize impacts to traffic during the heaviest traffic periods. Quality of life improvements include a smoother resurfaced pavement and reconstructed shoulders to benefit multiple users including bicyclists (from Wright Street to Washington Street).  A separate non-motorized path is planned in conjunction with this project from Wright Street to Commerce Drive.  This path will provide safe access for bicycles and pedestrians and provide an important connection between current and future non-motorized improvements planned by Marquette Township.
  • US-41 reconstruction in Houghton: MDOT will begin a two-year rebuilding project on 1.1 miles of US-41, from McInnes Drive to Isle Royale Street. The cost is estimated at $9.8 million. Construction will begin in May 2021 and will conclude Fall of 2022 The work will include converting the four-lane boulevard section to two lanes with designated turn lanes at major intersections, widening College Avenue to add a center left-turn lane. The project combines needed road work with storm sewer improvements, and replacement of aging city sanitary sewer and water main. Traffic shifts and detours will be required.
  • US-2 Bessemer: MDOT will begin the $10.4 million, two-year rebuilding of US-2, from the Powdermill Creek bridge west of Bessemer east to Old US-2 on the east side of Bessemer. The project will combine needed road work and storm sewer improvements with the city of Bessemer’s project to replace aging sanitary sewer and water main. The project includes rebuilding three miles of US-2. Construction will start in June 2021 and finish in October 2022. During the first year of work, traffic will be maintained with lane shifts and temporary traffic signals. During year two, eastbound traffic will be detoured on city streets.

With these projects having a whopping price tag of over $35 million dollars, the funding for these projects has to come from somewhere.

“All of these projects are funded with a mix of state and federal dollars,” Weingarten said. “We get money from the federal gas tax through the Federal Highway Administration, but the between that and then the state money, MDOT’s funds come through, primarily the gas taxes that we all pay at the pump when we fill up our car so these are really user fees both at the state and the federal level.”

So when you are planning your next road trip or even your daily commute to work, Weingarten has a few tips to ensure that your trip is road work and traffic-free.

“Before you go check out the MDOT construction and lane closure website which is michigan.gov/drive, or it’s called MI Drive, and it has an interactive map that will show you where lane closures are where projects are and you can plan your route to try to get around those,” Weingarten said. “Other than that, just try not to be distracted when driving anytime but especially in a work zone where there’s a lot going on, It’s easy to not pay attention to exactly what’s happening in the road in front of you, drivers are the primary safety mechanism in a vehicle.”