It's a project that's been years in the making. The Grand Marais Harbor will finally have a new breakwater constructed, and the first shipment of rocks arrived Thursday.
Shouts of fanfare greeted the three semi trucks carrying the first rocks for the new breakwater in Grand Marais Harbor. Grand Marais has needed a new breakwater for nearly 50 years, so when the trucks finally arrived, some residents lined the streets to see for themselves.
"To actually see that first moment of stone or rock come in to town, to know that this is actually going to happen," said Evelyn Morrison, a Grand Marais resident.
The rocks are made of dolomite and will be used as armor stones for the breakwater. The trucks carried the 19 rocks from the Havelka Quarry in Wallace, MI to the harbor, where a forklift moved them to the ground. Trucks will be bringing more rocks in on a regular basis, and work will begin soon when the barges arrive to take them out to water.
Each of the rocks weigh six to nine tons each. It will take nearly 700 more truckloads to bring in the remaining 3,500 large rocks. That totals about 25,000 tons of armor stones. Then, trains and more trucks will carry in smaller rocks to be core and filter stones.
Nearby residents came to watch the activity, including Burt Township Supervisor Jack Hubbard.
"It's an awful big deal to the community to have this project finally getting underway after five decades of fighting to get this harbor saved," said Hubbard.
Hubbard was elected Township Supervisor five-and-a-half years ago. Upon election, the community demanded something be done about the breakwater, and he has been working on it since, but it's not a one-man show.
"It was a huge collaborative effort from the community to the harbor committee to the federal and state legislators," Hubbard said.
The State of Michigan is providing $5 million for the project, $1.6 million is from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and $200,000 from the township. With the new breakwater, less sand will filter into the harbor, and tourism is expected to increase. The main contractor for the project is Great Lakes Dock and Material. The estimated completion date is November 1. The main factor that could push the project behind schedule is the weather. The barges cannot work safely if it is windy and waves are high.