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Little Traverse Bay Shoreline Erosion Could Cost Millions

Oct 13 | 2020  by

Late last year, as portions of shoreline showed signs of deterioration, Petoskey, Resort Township and Emmett County officials pooled $81,600 to begin a study of the shoreline. The primary focus was to evaluate the water, soil and other environmental conditions that are impacting the area. The study was conducted by evaluating soil borings, drone footage, terrain mapping, water current analysis and other methods. But its findings suggest construction costs to repair the Little Traverse Wheelway could reach upwards of millions of dollars.

One report was on the upper parts of the bluff that have undergone considerable changes over the past five years, due in large part because of fine sediment on the upper portions of the shoreline. But do not be fooled, high water levels in past years have also contributed to this heavy erosion.

Rory Agnew, head of the project, told officials; “The current high levels really increase the wave energy along the shoreline and erosion of the bluff toe, which leads to additional problems with respect to stability.”

Some ideas listed by Agnew include regrading the shoreline and adding a cobble stone beach to the bottom of the shore. But that strategy could cost between $5-$10 Million according to some early and unofficial statements. Currently, both Petoskey and Resort Township are looking to have conceptual drawings made to hopefully determine a straight path forward, costing $9,750 total for the drawings.

This report is a necessary first step towards determining what resources local governments will need to address this issue, as well as the willingness of each government to commit their resources to this project.

The City of Petoskey has so far spear-headed this effort, even though the land technically resides in Resort Township. Even MDOT has involved itself in the situation, given the concerns of possible impacts on U.S. Highway 31 which follows along the west-side of the State all the way up to Mackinac City. Where do you think Michigan’s shoreline erosion problem will be in 15 years?