Marquette County Road Commission will continue consideration of road

MARQUETTE – The Marquette County Road Commission voted unanimously Monday night to disregard a recommendation from the Marquette County Board and will instead move ahead with further consideration of the latest plans for a $20.8 million road construction project.

Last week, the county board recommended the road commission slow down its consideration of plans for roughly 11 miles of construction over Marquette County Road 510 and the Triple A Road to allow more time for public comment on the issue.

The improved roadway will connect County Road 550 with the Eagle Mine in Michigamme Township. The Lundin Mining Corp. – which is funding the construction – will use the route to truck ore from the mine to the Humboldt Mill.

Last week, opponents of the mine and the road project asked the county board to recommend the road commission delay its consideration and approval process because the public has not had enough time to absorb the extensive construction project and to make thoughtful comments and there were more issues to consider altering, including a 55-mph design speed and the potential use of eminent domain.

At the road commission’s meeting Monday in Ishpeming, Commissioner Russell Williams said with all due respect to the county’s recommendation, the project is “under a construction time frame” and “ample time” had been given to comment on the process thus far.

Completion of the project is tentatively scheduled for next fall. Lundin plans to be ready to produce nickel and copper from the Eagle Mine by late next year, with full production slated for 2015.

The plans for the road construction were first revealed at a public meeting Sept. 26.

Afterward, the road commission provided written responses to public questions from the Sept. 26 meeting at an Oct. 15 meeting in Ishpeming.

On Oct. 21, engineer-manager James Iwanicki presented a revised alignment plan, which was unanimously approved. That plan incorporated several ideas received from public comments.

Iwanicki said the road commission would hold a future public meeting when engineering plans using the Oct. 21 approved alignment were 70 percent complete.

The road commission has scheduled that public information meeting for 7 p.m. Dec. 4 in Powell Township. At that meeting, the road commission will provide information and answer questions about the project. Plans will be made available to the public for review after 3 p.m. Friday.

The road commission will then consider approving the plans at its Dec. 16 meeting in Ishpeming.

The county board’s recommendation had suggested using the Dec. 4 meeting to take additional public comment on the previous plans presented Oct. 21, rather than moving forward with review of the new engineering plans for the project.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206