Restoration project begins on Little Rapids section of St. Marys River

The $9.4 million project is expected to by finished by this November.

CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Mi (WPBN/WGTU) -- Although it has taken a little over two decades, a project is finally moving forward to restore the Little Rapids portion of the St. Marys River.

The celebration was held Tuesday in Sault Ste. Marie by residents and representatives of the many groups that came together to put the restoration plan into action.

Cooperation has been critical to the project with the Soo Area Sportsmen's Club, Chippewa County Road Commission, Lake Superior State University and other groups all contributing.

"The fact that the local people initiated this project and it has local support, that's the kind of projects we need the federal government to be involved in," said Congressman Dan Benishek.

Congressman Benishek and other project leaders hope to see several changes come from the restoration, including getting the St. Marys river formally removed from the Great Lakes Areas of Concern list.

The St. Marys River has been on that list since 1987 because of high pollution levels.

The restoration project revolves around the construction of a new bridge to replace two undersized causeway culverts between the Sugar Island ferry dock and the island itself.

The bridge will reconnect water flow, improve the habitat for the areas native fish and revitalize local tourism by bringing fishing opportunities back to those waters.

"The Great Lakes are a huge part of our economy," said Benishek. "It's a $19 billion a year business and to have a resurgence of that fishing economy here will be fabulous."

The $9.4 million project is expected to by finished by this November.