By Shelby Pendowski, Enterprise intern
Motorists traveling M-22 from Omena to Northport in the upcoming months may be inconvenienced, as the Michigan Department of Transportation approved a proposal to reconstruct five miles of the motorway and replace a culvert at Lee Mann Road beginning on June 2.
“I have been waiting for this for 10 years,” said Mike Tenbrock from Omena, who said the road ruts and holes have caused damage to his car.
He’s not concerned about the traffic delays that accompany road construction. “I have no concerns at all, I just can’t wait for it to happen.”
In a meeting at the Leelanau Township Fire Hall in Northport held last Wednesday, May 7, the state invited residents, motorists and business owners in the area to learn more about the project and express opinions.
The construction, expected to last until the end of October, would require the section of M-22 to drop to one lane under flag control. Also, a temporary traffic signal would be placed at the culvert.
“It is time to do it,” said Allan Dalzell. “The road is shot. The road is older than I am and I am 77. I am glad they are widening it for bikes.”
The projected cost of the construction is $3.8 million.
Many residents in Leelanau County and many homeowners on M-22, attended the discussion to pose some concerns. Community members were able to speak one-on-one with a panel of representatives involved with the project.
Representatives involved in construction included Gary Niemi, MDOT development Engineer and Project Manager; David Pax, assistant construction engineer; Jan Bloomfield, design engineer; Judy Browning, MDOT construction engineer; and Sean Sebela, the project manager from Rieth-Riley Construction Co., Inc.
Bill and Sally Coohon of Northport were two of the attendees. Sally, who owns Dolls & More in Northport, said they wanted to address worries regarding their property line.
She feels improvement to the road will provide benefits to the local economy.
“I am thinking as the tourists get up here and … they need something, instead of going back through the construction they are going to rely on the local stores,” Coohon said. “So, I am thinking maybe (the project) is going to be good for businesses.”
The No. 1 concern received by the panel from community members regarded the addition of a five-foot shoulder alongside the road and how that would affect their property lines.
Although glad for the extra room for non-motorists, May Thomas was concerned that widening the motorway would infringe on her yard, driveway and trees.
“I am definitely in support of it,” Thomas said. “I just wanted to know how it would affect our property. We are right on M-22 so I wanted to know if they were going to take any of our trees and they’re not.”
The project will include resurfacing a five-mile stretch of road, creating a new drainage system and adding on bike lanes.
The consensus of those in attendance appeared positive.