MDOT removes, closes stairways at M-28 rest areas

MARQUETTE — Some stairways have been closed and removed at scenic lakeside rest areas along M-28 East between Harvey and the Marquette County line, due to rising lake levels and significant erosion that has made the structures difficult to maintain, officials said.

“It’s just not feasible to maintain them. They’re being damaged, destroyed every year,” said Rob Tervo, manager at the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Ishpeming Transportation Center.

Tervo said erosion over the last couple of years has caused the shoreline to recede several feet, with the most extensive damage having occurred to the stairs at the two rest areas closest to Harvey, near the Gitche Gumee Campground along M-28 East.

“The damage has been more significant on those first two parks than on the easternmost one. The stairs along the beach were destroyed at those first two parks,” he said.

The two stairways were removed last week, but a viewing platform that was previously connected to the stairs at one of the rest areas is still intact and available for visitors, Tervo said.

The stairway at the rest area closest to the border of Alger and Marquette counties had less damage. The stairs were temporarily closed, but have now been repaired and reopened, Tervo said.

With the stair access gone in many of these areas, beach access may be difficult, especially with the eroding, cliff-like shoreline.

Tervo said the shoreline has eroded 40 to 50 feet in some locations over the years, and areas that were formerly gradual slopes have turned into high, steep drop-offs.

“The landscape is changing there,” he said. “What used to be more of a gentle slope to the lake is getting cut back every fall with the storms.”

Tervo said damage from ice tends to occur over the winter as well.

While it may be tempting for visitors to try to climb down to the beach, the slopes are quite steep in some areas, and signs have been posted to warn visitors of unstable ground.

“Our concern is for the safety of the visitors, and the landscape is changing with the shoreline condition changing, so for people’s safety, they shouldn’t be trying to go over the fence and get to the lake,” Tervo said.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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