To the editor:
The Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC) and Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. (KEMC) provided the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a list of Alternate Routes for a new road from the Yellow Dog Plains in northern Marquette County to US 41 in Humboldt. The cost of building whichever route that was to be used would be paid for by KEMC at a cost of $80,000,000 to $100,000,000. This list consisted of 4-5 different routes all in heavily wooded, wetland areas.
However, they did not include a route that utilizes the roads that already exist and would be improved to benefit our community directly. This route utilizes County Road 550, Forestville Road and US 41. This map of the general Forestville route was available at the Aug. 28, 2012, EPA Hearing on CR 595:
This map shows the Forestville Road (in green) and a suggested new truck route that would avoid congested traffic areas of Marquette. Click on map for larger version. (Map courtesy Daryl Wilcox, Powell Township supervisor)
KEMC researched and surveyed the Forestville route. They held meetings with the city and the townships about using this route if the Woodland Road doesn’t get approved. I imagine that one of the biggest reasons for not proposing this is the money KEMC would save hauling their ore to the Humboldt Mill. But another big reason for CR 595 is it allows them to operate "Out of Sight and Out of Mind" of the general public.
If the Forestville route were to be used there would be many benefits for the people of Marquette County. A truck route around north Marquette would stop any mining trucks from coming through the heavily populated City. Heavy logging coming from Big Bay and the limestone trucks that currently use Wright Street could use the Forestville route. Trucks going to the new Northern Michigan University Power Plant on the corner of Wright St. and Sugarloaf Ave. (up to 7 loads of wood chips per day) could use it. All the delivery trucks that go to WE Energies could use that route also.
This is a real solution for the truck traffic in north Marquette which has been a problem for the citizens of Marquette for a very long time. A Truck Route and an improved CR 550 would be a permanent for our community and our children and their children would benefit long into the future.
CR 595 is to be built as a Dead End Road ending at the KEMC Mine. The road from Powell Township to the mine, CR AAA, is a Seasonal Road which the MCRC has informed Powell Township that they would not maintain in the winter so that people who live along CR 550 could work at the mine. KEMC did say they would plow the road during the winter so the people on CR 550 could work at the mine as long as it was open. This was verbal commitment and currently no agreement is in writing. In a public meeting with the Powell Township Board, KEMC stated that once CR 595 is built there will be no commercial traffic allowed up to the mine from CR 550. This choice will bring serious economic harm to Powell Township, and that harm has not been addressed in any document or meeting of our county government.
$80,000,000 to $100,000,000 for a Haul Road to a mine that destroys more of what makes the UP special and will be gone within a short time or spend $80,000,000 to $100,000,000 to update our current roads and build a truck route that will be here for the rest of our lives and all of our children's and grandchildren's lives?
Don't let a Foreign Mining Company come in to the Upper Peninsula and tell us what is good or bad. Make up your own mind and support what you feel is right.
Powell Township Supervisor
Resident of the UP and Marquette County
Editor's Note: Keweenaw Now received this letter today, Sept. 4, 2012. Mr. Wilcox stated some of these ideas during the Aug. 28, 2012, EPA Hearing on CR 595 in Marquette.