High groundwater levels cause of road closure

By: 
Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

COLDSPRINGS TWP. – Kalkaska County is known for its water.

There’s the beauty of Torch Lake. There’s its proximity to popular trout streams in the Boardman and Manistee rivers.

But, sometimes, there can be too much of a good thing. And, too much groundwater has Kalkaska County Road Commission officials closing a well-traveled section of County Road 571, between Twin Lake and Starvation Lake roads, on a regular basis this spring as water swells onto and sometimes covers sections of the roadway.

KCRC manager John Rogers confirmed reports that the road commission has had to close the road several times since May 28 due to dangerous driving conditions caused by standing water on the roadway.

“It’s groundwater,” Rogers said. “We have a couple of places in the county like that.

“But, 571 is such a high volume, high speed road that (the water) becomes and hazard and we’ve had to close the road at times.”

KCRC crews have had some success pumping water from one side of the road to the other using pumps at a rate of 1,000 gallons per minute, allowing the roadway to be open to traffic in the late afternoon and evening hours.

“We’re pumping about a half-a-million gallons of water a day,” he added.

According to Rogers, there are two ponds on either side of the roadway in the affected area, with water coming off of nearby hills and wanting to flow from east to west.

Even though there’s no direct route for the water to flow, Rogers said water levels haven’t been a significant issue until the past couple of years.

“And, this year it's far worse than the previous year,” he added. “It’s because the groundwater is at an all-time high.”

KCRC officials have contacted multiple engineers to see what can be done to correct the problem. But, until the water levels have subsided and the ground firmed up, Rogers said little can be done, as a potential short-term fix could actually lead to more long-term problems.

Still, he added that one potential solution is to install piping and then pump the water under the road in its natural direction of east to west.

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