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      MDOT speaks with public about Lift Bridge project

      If you havenâ??t heard by now, thereâ??s still time to prepare yourself for major construction coming to the Houghton-Hancock area.

      A $5.5 million rehabilitation project by MDOT will take place starting this coming winter on the Portage Lift Bridge.

      Nearly 28,000 cars cross the bridge daily, and some of the cables on the bridge havenâ??t been replaced since it was built almost 55 years ago.

      MDOT construction engineer, Al Anderson, said these types of upgrades had to happen eventually.

      â??The bridge is a reliable structure, and we want to keep it that way,â?? said Anderson. â??Thatâ??s why weâ??re doing preventative maintenance on this bridge in order to make sure that itâ??s reliable for many years to come.â??

      Hereâ??s some of the specs: Crews will be replacing lift cables, restoring balance chains, upgrading electrical and mechanical equipment, improving security, and installing new warning gates and barriers.

      Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction, and traffic on and off the bridge on M-26 will reroute through Houghton and Hancock, as the Hancock ramp and "Yooper Loop" will be closed.

      The lower bridge for snowmobiles will remain open for a majority of the winter.

      There will be two all-night closuresâ??one in January and one in Marchâ??both occuring on a weekend, a handful of two-hour closures at night, and about two hundred 20-minute closures throughout the day.

      Anderson said though the public will not be able to cross the bridge during the closures, there is a plan in place for emergency vehicles.

      â??During that whole night, weâ??ll have a temporary ramp built so that the ambulances and police cars can still get across the bridge,â?? Anderson explained.

      Anderson said communication will be key throughout the project. He said MDOT will utilize various social media like Facebook and Twitter, as well as local media to let people know when the closures are coming and to keep the public up to date on the progress.

      â??We got to make sure that weâ??re out front on this one and communicate to everyone because we know that it is going to be very impactful when we close down for long periods of time and no one can cross back and forth over this bridge,â?? said Anderson.

      It may sound overwhelming now, but when the time comes, there will be plenty of information given to clear any remaining confusion.

      For additional information about the Portage Lift Bridge Rehabilitation Project, click here.