City going down wrong road on trucking ordinance

To say we were surprised by the city of Marquette talking about a new trucking ordinance that could prohibit logging trucks and future truck traffic from Lundin Mining among other trucks to come through the city would be a huge understatement.

At first glance, this move caused us to ask, “What are Marquette decision makers thinking?” Several months ago, city commissioners made denigrating statements about Marquette General Hospital, which is poised to be one of the largest taxpayers in the city.

Now it looks like the city is contemplating putting up a roadblock with a new ordinance to keep large trucks such as logging and mining trucks from using city routes.

We are very concerned about what kind of an anti-business message the city of Marquette is sending. If this is the treatment two of the longest standing industries in our area receive, what kind of a statement does that make to any new businesses that are looking at establishing themselves in our market?

The name of our newspaper is The Mining Journal. The mining industry was part of the impetus for the origination of our newspaper in 1846 and we have been serving this area for more than 167 years. When one considers our background, you can understand why we are concerned about the announcement of possibly blocking mining trucks from coming through our city.

The city of Marquette and much of the Upper Peninsula was developed because of mining. Another core product of the Upper Peninsula historically has been logging. Logging trucks could also be prohibited from using Marquette streets if this new ordinance goes into affect.

We understand the need for the city of Marquette to make sure that safety is paramount in allowing large truck traffic to come through; we support that concern.

We also understand that there may be a need to secure some type of funding to improve and maintain the roads with additional truck traffic coming through the city, and we support a fair way to secure funding through a permitting process.

But what we don’t understand is why this happened when it did. Logging trucks have been using Marquette city roads for more than 80 years. Why change the rules now? It appears to us, and we suspect a great many people, that this is a back-handed way to keep the Eagle Mine from transporting ore through the city.

Lundin Mining has come in as a good business partner, picking up where Rio Tinto left off by showing its support for the community where they are going to do business in.

In Friday’s newspaper we ran a story announcing $1.2 million in grant funding being awarded to 12 area organizations. The funding was provided as a joint effort of Cliffs Natural Resources and Lundin Mining.

Lundin Mining also made immediate commitments to things like the U.P. 200 and the AMCAB Meals on Wheels program, just to mention a few of the programs that Rio Tinto funded and Lundin felt important to continue to fund to be a good business neighbor in the community.

This type of community support is very much appreciated. Does the city of Marquette think that making this surprise announcement at this time, knowing that this project has been coming for several years, is a good way to show their appreciation for the community support offered by Lundin Mining? We certainly hope not.

We hope that the possible ordinance is just a way to open up new dialogue about what needs to be done cooperatively to work with the logging industry and mining companies to maintain safe roads while developing a reasonable request for these companies to share in the cost of providing a safe route through the city of Marquette.

We encourage the city administration and city commissioners to be receptive to a good dialogue leading up to and including the Oct. 30 hearing.

We agree with Commissioner Don Ryan who was quoted as saying, ” I just think this is a terrible starting point,” when discussing the process that took place in creating this possible ordinance.

We trust the city of Marquette will find a way to work with trucking companies in a much more proactive business friendly manner.