MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - Road construction re-routing drivers and slowing down drive times is a familiar summer scene across the Upper Peninsula. Now a lengthy dispute and lock out that started September 4 between labor workers and contractors means road construction projects in Marquette County may not be done until 2019.
"If a project isn't started and say this dispute doesn't get settled until the middle of October and we only have a month of time and the project is going to take a month and a half or two months to do it doesn't pay to open it up and start it," explained Kurt Taavola, Director of Engineering with the Marquette County Road Commission.
"We're hopeful that the parties resolve their differences and get back to finishing the work they've started this year," said Marquette City Manager Mike Angeli.
More than 10 different construction projects in the county could be delayed, meaning the city and area drivers will have to wait until spring 2019 to see completed roadways.
"It's such a short construction season here in the U.P. with a very limited amount of time and you try to get as much work done as you can," said Taavola.
In most cases the construction is a matter of finishing roads by laying asphalt and it's hard to say if labor workers, Operating Engineers, Local 324, and their contractor Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation A (MITA) will reach an agreement soon. So some roads may stay covered in gravel throughout the winter 2018-2019.
"If they don't resolve their differences and the blacktop isn't completed I'm not sure what our next options are," said Angeli. "The manholes are sticking up, expecting a second layer and if we don't get a second layer you can't plow the street there."
The Marquette County Road Commission says whatever projects are not finished in 2018 will have to be completed around summer 2019. The city of Marquette says the smaller projects it usually reserves for when bigger projects are completed will also be rolled into 2019's workload.
The following is a list of the Marquette County Road Commission projects that 'are in some way being affected by the Operating Engineers, Local 324 Lockout.'
MDOT led projects
CR 581, 1.61 miles of HMA crushing, shaping and resurfacing
CR 545, 1.5 miles of geogrid, gravel overlay and HMA paving
CR 571, .6 miles of curb replacement and HMA paving
CR NP Bridge project, affect paving of project
CR 557 Bridge project, affect paving of project
County Primary Paving Projects
CR 492, M35 to Eagle Mills Road, .97 miles
CR 494, Rose Street to CR 583, .36 miles
CR 496, CR 478 to CR CL, .95 miles
CR 541, CR 456 to US 41, 2.7 miles
CR 601, at Lake Lory outlet crossing, 350 ft.
CR NP, CR 480 toward bridge, .4 miles