Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Old Mission Gazette

The shoreline around the Old Mission Peninsula continues to be pummeled with erosion issues caused by high water, and it doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon.

One of the main spots impacted by erosion over the past year is the north end of Bluff Road, which has been closed to all traffic since last winter. We first reported on this portion of road in October 2019, after a tree collapsed into East Bay, taking most of the bank with it.

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Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo

The situation there has only gotten worse throughout this year. Not only is the road bed eroding, but there are now “caves” underneath the road. Here are some photos taken from the water by Old Mission Peninsula resident Susan Shooltz.

Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo

Yesterday, we talked with Brad Kluczynski, Manager of the Grand Traverse County Road Commission, about the future of this stretch of road. He said they just met with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE, formerly the Department of Environmental Quality) this week, and they will have more answers next week.

However, Kluczynski noted that EGLE may not issue a permit to rebuild the closed section of Bluff Road. “The current standards do not allow re-establishment of land in the Great Lakes, so we’re not sure they’re even going to permit anything at this point.”

If that’s the case, that part of the road may be closed permanently and cul de sacs built on both sides of the road closure. He stressed that this is just one option, and he’ll know more after talking with EGLE again next week.

“We are putting together some ideas and after we get some info back from EGLE, we’ll have a much more indepth outline of what we’re expecting can and cannot happen out there.”

However, if EGLE does issue a permit, that would mean building a massive wall to stabilize the bank and road. But the cost is prohibitive, and it would not be an easy fix.

“At this point, we don’t have the funds to do it,” said Kluczynski. “You’re talking about probably a two and a half million dollar project, and 75 percent of that would have to come from the township or other sources. We will probably not be able to fund it in the next few years. It’s just the nature of where we have funding coming in and where the State of Michigan mandates our funds.”

There are also issues on the north side of the road closure on Bluff Road, which includes not only erosion from the water side, but also drainage issues from the west, causing sinkholes in the road.

Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo

As a side note, my husband Tim’s 90-year-old mom lives in one of the houses between the sinkhole area and the closed road, making a response from the Peninsula Fire Department difficult if not impossible.

Kluczynski said they are in the process of fixing that spot. “The water is coming from the west side of the road and draining underneath the road and carrying sand and everything out with it,” he said, adding that they’ve already installed one drainage pipe there, with more on the way.

“We are looking at making some additional improvements there and putting asphalt over the top of it once we have the new pipes in place. But we have to get some specific piping to put in so we can get that water to drain without eroding that piece of the road any further.”

He anticipates that the sinkhole repair will be done by Labor Day, with the asphalt in place sometime after Labor Day.

Stay tuned to Old Mission Gazette as more information becomes available. Here are a few more photos from Old Mission Peninsula resident Susan Shooltz.

Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo
Bluff Road Erosion on the Old Mission Peninsula | Susan Shooltz Photo

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Bay View Insurance of Traverse City Michigan

12 COMMENTS

  1. Great reporting dear Jane……was quite surprised when 10 days ago I ran north and saw the extensive snow fencing….so I went around it and walked along that edge degradation. Mother Nature rules

  2. Finally someone from press is looking at this. Dig a little deeper and you will find that what Road Commission is saying is not accurate and they are seeking the answers they want from other agencies. So far zero accountability going on there and many false statements to the public. The project is not a 2.5M fix. Funding from other sources is not required. Residents warned RC of issues years before which would have enabled RC to mitigate all of this. RC claimed it would be fixed in spring. No remedial action has occurred. Claimed Army Corps of Engineers was the delay. RC has not contacted ACOE. List goes on.

    • Thanks for the note! We’ll be talking to the Road Commission again towards the end of the week, and will bring up your notes and write an update. I’ve heard that from a few sources, that the Army Corps of Engineers had not been contacted.

      • Jane, I was just wondering why the county has no emergency fund set up for imperative road work. If it had been tackled last year, cost to fix would have been a fraction. It was obvious it could do nothing but get much worse, yet no one did anything truly preventative, permanent. Any county that has roads immediately adjacent to a major body of water like the Great Lakes, or ocean, must expect the unexpected, must be prepared to act immediately. I don’t understand the lack of foresight and concern. Has there never been an emergency fund in place? And it most definitely has to be coupled with a way to get any and all necessary permits required to do such emergency county work done in days, not weeks or months.

    • Wow, quite a lot of accusations. Would be interested in seeing your proof. How is it the RC’s fault when the erosion started so far outside of the right of way, doesn’t the property owner have some responsibility there? And if no one is living on that stretch of road, why spend so much money on trying to save it, just go around. I’d rather see them fix issues like congestion that adds more pollutants to the air and the environment.

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