City looks at trucking proposal

MARQUETTE – The Marquette City Commission is expected to address a proposed truck route ordinance at its Monday meeting at 7 p.m. at city hall.

The commission held a Thursday work session to discuss details before the ordinance is officially released to the public. The ordinance would be put on the Monday agenda for a first reading on the consent agenda, with a subsequent second reading, public hearing and possible action at a July meeting.

The proposed ordinance was crafted by a transportation subcommittee, composed of Mayor Pro Tem Fred Stonehouse and commissioners Mike Coyne and Sara Cambensy to deal with the increased truck traffic expected when the Lundin Mining Corp. starts hauling nickel and copper ore from the Eagle Mine in Michigamme Township to the Humboldt Mill in Humboldt Township.

The ordinance would designate truck routes classified for use by truck traffic as:

  • West Washington Street from McClellan Avenue west to the intersection with U.S. 41
  • McClellan Avenue from U.S. 41 to Ridge Street
  • McClellan Avenue from Fair Avenue to Wright Street
  • Wright Street from the western city boundary to Sugar Loaf Avenue
  • Sugar Loaf Avenue to the intersection with Hawley Street and County Road 550
  • County Road 550 from the intersection with Sugar Loaf Avenue to the northern city boundary

Earlier this year, the commission approved an agreement between the city and Eagle Mine that provides payments for road maintenance as well as a trucking corridor for mining traffic, a pact that was the first step of the continuing trucking discussion.

“This is our best shot at trying to figure out a way to do this fairly,” Coyne said of the proposed route.

Commissioner Don Ryan expressed concern about a “gap” in the route on McClellan between Fair and Ridge.

City Manager Bill Vajda said, “The area, in particular, the concern had been that this is as of yet still not engineered or designed to be a truck route, and providing any kind of increased traffic on that area, given what we’ve seen from the recent weather emergency, the fragility of that infrastructure, the character of the area as it’s currently zoned and the use of the area as it’s currently zoned would be inconsistent with the same kind of through traffic that we might see on Highway 41 or on any other state trunk line.”

The gap on McClellan is designed primarily to be a residential street, he said.

Ryan said he believed the intent was to deal with surrounding townships, and pushing truck traffic to west U.S. 41 doesn’t demonstrate the city’s willingness to work with Marquette Township.

“This means the logging trucks that are going to Escanaba still have to go to west U.S. 41,” he said.

Stonehouse said the city doesn’t have a north-south route capable of carrying trucks nor does it have the money to bring McClellan up to trucking standards.

“We don’t want a truck route,” Coyne said. “We want a bypass. If there is a north-south truck route, that would indicate maybe less motivation on people’s part to have a bypass.”

Lundin also wants a bypass, he noted.

Cambensy said, “How much will we as a city, though, want to take on for through traffic?”

Coyne said the proposed route protects the city for three years after which it will be re-examined.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.