Setback for County Road 595 plan

MARQUETTE – The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will not issue a permit for the construction of the proposed Marquette County Road 595.

MDEQ director Dan Wyant formally notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the decision in a letter today.

In early December, the EPA lifted some objections to the Marquette County Road Commission’s proposal, but reaffirmed its objection to plans for minimizing and compensating for the road’s impacts to wetlands, streams and wildlife.

The DEQ then had 30 days to satisfy the EPA’s reaffirmed objection by issuing a permit that included minimization and mitigation plans consistent with EPA requirements, or to notify the agency the DEQ intended to deny the permit application.

In today’s letter, the MDEQ director said the tight time frame and the complexity of the remaining issues led to the decision to deny the permit application, even though Wyant said he believed there are reasons to support the road plan.

The proposed new 21-mile, $82 million north-south County Road 595 would run from County Road AAA in Michigamme Township to U.S. 41 in Humboldt Township. Among the uses and benefits cited for building the road include providing a more direct route for Rio Tinto to truck ore from its Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains to its Humboldt Mill processing center in Humboldt Township.

The authority to process the permit application now transfers to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For more on the story, See Friday’s print edition of The Mining Journal.