L’Anse gets funds to repave Main St. corridor

L’ANSE – The Village of L’Anse plans to repave the gateway to and heart of its downtown in the next few months, having recently learned it’s been awarded a $675,000 grant from the state of Michigan for the project.

According to Village Manager Robert LaFave, the grant, along with as much as $60,000 to $70,000 in village funds, will be used to repave Broad and Main Streets, from U.S. 41 and Broad Street to Main Street and Jentoft Road, a distance of about two miles. The grant, from Michigan’s Priority Roads Investment Program, requires the money is used by the end of the year, and the village has been prepared to fast track the project.

“We’re working diligently to get this going right away,” LaFave said. “We have to have bids put out hopefully by the end of this week. We hope to hear back in two weeks from contractors, and award the project to somebody immediately after that. … Once we get a contract, we hope to get it wrapped up fairly shortly.”

LaFave said engineering for the project, which is being handled by U.P. Engineers & Architects, has already been completed. The project will consist of milling the existing road surface, then laying down three inches of fresh pavement on top of the concrete road bed, a process he said will likely take a couple of weeks.

The last time the roads were paved was in the mid 1980s, LaFave said.

The grant funding came from Michigan’s Priority Roads Investment Program, and LaFave credited State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and State Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, with helping secure the funding.

Dianda said securing local road funding is difficult, particularly for the U.P., but that he and Casperson were willing to work across the aisle to bring help home.

“We’re all fighting for the U.P. to bring the dollars back,” he said, adding that repaving in L’Anse was badly needed, “almost to the point of public safety.”

Dianda said he expected the project would have a significant economic impact on the village.

“It’s going to bring in a lot of different people to come look at the commercial businesses in L’Anse,” he said. “It helps the current businesses, but it also attracts people looking at the commercial real estate downtown.”

While there will likely be some traffic disruption during road construction, LaFave said the community has been overwhelmingly positive about the project, and “has been looking forward to this for a very long time.”

Broad Street Frostie Freeze owner Carol Deschaine said she’d prefer the road work takes place in September when her business will be closed for the season, but that it “definitely needs to be done” regardless.

“If it’s before September it’ll disrupt business,” she said. “But we need roads, they’re in bad shape.”?