Group eyes US 41 corridor improvements

MARQUETTE – A U.S. 41 Corridor Committee has created a draft wish list of improvements it would like to see the Michigan Department of Transportation complete in Marquette Township, should a special state funding request be granted.

The committee, which has member communities stretching along the highway from Harvey to Michigamme, meets monthly to discuss a range of issues related to improvements and changes to the busy business corridor.

In a preliminary draft of the corridor funding request, the panel said the property along the 2.7 miles of highway has “been subject to progressive development pressure over the course of the past two decades.”

“This corridor has become the regional retail and entertainment hub for the entire Upper Peninsula,” the document stated. “As such, several local governments have unified to request special funding assistance to mitigate various traffic and public safety issues that have manifested themselves as a result of this rapid development.”

Marquette Township Manager Randy Girard said about $10 million in state discretionary funding is said to be available for roads.

“We’re hoping to secure some of that money to improve the U.S. 41 corridor,” Girard said.

The proposed improvements would be made in two phases.

Among the changes the group has targeted for the first phase, a traffic light would be installed at Brickyard Road, which crosses the highway where Best Buy is located.

A grassy median that keeps the highway divided from the township border west to Marquette County Road HQ at Wal-Mart and Target would be extended farther west to Brickyard Road.

Turn lanes using the “Michigan left” configuration would be installed where helpful to existing and future development. Acceleration and deceleration lanes would be built.

Above-ground utilities would be buried. Lighting, stormwater and landscaping enhancements would be installed and a safe sub-grade crossing would be put in at Wright Street for motorized and non-motorized traffic.

In the second phase, the corridor would be improved from County Road HQ to Brookton Road, an effective and sustainable lighting, stormwater and landscaping plan installed and utilities buried to improve aesthetics and reliability.

Girard said the committee met recently to discuss the draft of the request. Several comments were made and the document will be refined and discussed again next month. Marquette Township planner Jason McCarthy said the request would not likely move to lawmakers downstate for at least a month.

“We want to give people a chance to review it and comment on it,” McCarthy said.

Meanwhile, an MDOT study of the corridor is ongoing, looking at some of the same issues the committee targeted.

“The most important part of this right now is from (County Road) HQ to Brickyard (Road),” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said all of the efforts would try to work in concert with a separate $19.6 million white paper request for several regional improvements to transportation.

“It all kind of melds together,” McCarthy said. “We don’t want to conflict.”

The white paper, which was written last June by Marquette County Road Commission engineer-manager James Iwanicki on behalf of the city of Marquette, Marquette Township, the road commission and Marquette County, seeks $500,000 to pursue permitting of Marquette County Road 595 through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, $10.1 million for road and street improvements in the city of Marquette related to a transportation route for the Lundin Mining Corp, another $500,000 for a regional traffic study, which Lundin has since pledged to fund and $8.5 million to implement the recommendations from the independent traffic study.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.