Construction workers from James Peterson & Sons Inc. of Medford, Wis., closed an excavation Tuesday morning on M-35 in Menominee. Monday night the crew accidentally struck a power line knocking out electricity to more than 1,100 customers for more than an hour. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Construction workers from James Peterson & Sons Inc. of Medford, Wis., closed an excavation Tuesday morning on M-35 in Menominee. Monday night the crew accidentally struck a power line knocking out electricity to more than 1,100 customers for more than an hour. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
MENOMINEE - An investigation is under way into how an electrical power line got cut during a construction project on M-35 in Menominee Monday night. A total of 1,126 Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) customers were without power for just over an hour from 6:10 until 7:35 p.m. in Menominee and Menominee Township.

"We're still investigating what happened and because it's a construction site, there's a lot of activity," said WPS spokesperson Jenny Short. "We're still going through sorting out what exactly happened there."

WPS is not alone. Also looking into the incident is James Lake with the Michigan Department of Transportation Office of Communications. Lake, who works out of Escanaba, checked with his people in Menominee. They told him that the prime contractor on the job, James Peterson & Sons Inc. of Medford, Wis., was working on placing a water main under M-35 just north of 43rd Avenue when the operator of an excavator struck a buried power line.

"It was not marked on the plans, so it was an accident," Lake said. "That sometimes occurs in construction projects if utilities are not marked."

When ask if it was typical to not have the area marked he said no but, "Unfortunately not every utility is marked absolutely correctly or sometimes they are not marked. It's something we go to great lengths to avoid but it does occur on occasion."

The EagleHerald called James Peterson & Sons and spoke with company representative Brett Machon. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday he had not heard of the incident.

"I've talked to our people up there recently and I didn't hear a thing about it," he said. "I'll have to look into it."

According to Short, WPS is also trying to figure out why the power line wasn't marked. Anyone, business or residential, who digs is supposed to contact the Miss Dig service three working days before they want to begin work. During that time WPS will send out locators to mark the area.

So the question remains. Was Miss Dig notified?

"Our locator is working very closely with the road construction contractor," said Short. "Part of what we're investigating is whether we were instructed whether to locate that facility or not."

It's not known at this time if there will be a bill for fixing the line and restoring power or who would be responsible for payment.