Erosion crumbles Lakeshore Drive as Allegan County officials plead for help from Lansing

Lakeshore Drive sinkhole.PNG
A 10-foot wide sinkhole has been along Lakeshore Drive for about two months. (WWMT/Tarvarious Haywood)

Sinkholes are forming and roads are crumbling as the water from Lake Michigan continues to hammer much of the shoreline.

Officials in Allegan County are taking the issue to Lansing to plead for help because they say without funding it's impossible to fix the problem.

“We are not designed for this Great Lakes high-water, wind-driven, erosion that has occurred here in the last several months,” Allegan County Commission Chairman Jim Storey said.

Storey said the lake has already started to undermine a section of Lakeshore Drive in Saugatuck Township making it almost impossible to support heavy vehicles like fire trucks. A 10-foot wide sinkhole has been along the road for about two months.

Every time a wave crashes onto the shore it's literally reshaping the Michigan shoreline and 12 homeowners are not able to get their homes because of the erosion.

Storey said the erosion in Allegan County is a natural disaster.

He testified before the Michigan House Natural Resource and Environment subcommittee pleading for funding to relocate a portion of Lakeshore Drive in Saugatuck Township.

The Army Corps of Engineers and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have predicted that lake levels are going to continue to rise in 2020.

“We're going to see more erosion, we need a permanent solution not a temporary fix,” Storey said.

The long-term fix could cost $5 million, something he said the county can't afford without help. The cheaper option would be $800,000, but it's only temporary.

Storey said residents are not on board for a temporary solution.

“There is a utility easement for electrical services we would like to use that. There are some pieces of people’s property, but these are fairly large lots that we would probably have to acquire but what's the option,” he said.

Many of the people who live on the eroded stretch of Lakeshore Drive are seasonal occupants, but Storey said that doesn't matter, the issue still needs to be addressed.

He said Allegan County officials would continue to look for funding to protect their homes.

“They deserve to have access to their homes, they pay taxes and they expect us to respond and when I say 'us,' I mean all levels of government,” Storey said.