Thursday, October 17, 2013

Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve: Marquette County Road Commission planning to build potential new road sections for Eagle Mine

By Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve (YDWP)
Posted in their Oct. 16, 2013, Newsletter
Reprinted with permission

At the Oct. 15, 2013, Marquette County Road Commission public hearing held in Ishpeming, Mary Ellen Krieg of Concerned Citizens of Big Bay stands up to make public comment. (Photo © and courtesy Emily Whittaker)

BIG BAY -- The Marquette County Road Commission held a public hearing [Tuesday] night [Oct. 15, 2013] regarding the road work that is proposed to service Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains. Work plans for the road were made public in late September which revealed plans to build new sections of road instead of upgrade County Road 510 and County Road AAA. Some sections of the old road are planned to be kept but the majority of the route would be completely new road.

According to the Road Commission, the road work will cost around $20.8 million dollars and will be paid for entirely by "private" funds.

It was also stated at the meeting that this road would not be built if the mine was not there. It is being paid for by the mine, and would be designed specifically for ore-hauling trucks. It is clearly a mining road, even though Lundin’s mining permit states that they will use existing roads and upgrade CR 510/CRAAA.

It is important for the community to keep in mind that once the mine is closed there is no plan in place for maintenance of these new roads that were made to service large trucks. Public funding would have to be used unless the Road Commission can devise an alternative way to pay for ongoing maintenance well past the life of the mine. Since it is likely this public agency would use tax dollars to maintain this route made specifically for Eagle Mine, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve urges people to contact both the Road Commission and the Marquette County Board of Commissioners. Let them know that tax dollars should not be used toward this project at anytime, especially for ongoing maintenance after the mine is closed.

Many concerned citizens came to the meeting [Tuesday] night to bring up valid points about this project. Several people commented on the fact that this road is being designed for 55 mph traffic. Concerns about safety, collisions, and speed limits were all made.

Mary Ellen Krieg of Concerned Citizens of Big Bay stated, "I have spoken with several friends who are engineers about this project. They all stated that building the road to service trucks going 55 mph makes no sense. Loaded ore trucks should never go that fast in the first place."

Many spoke about their desire to keep the canopy intact, instead of having a 150-feet clear span on both sides of the road.

"This area is used by our members as a place to come recreate and see the scenic beauty of MarquetteCounty. We urge you to carefully consider whether the public wants this 'new road' if it is not for the public benefit," said Emily Whittaker, Special Projects manager of YDWP.

Please take the time to contact the Road Commission and let them know you do not want to see any new sections of road made. They should stick to the plan of using existing roads only. For more information on the plan, click here to visit the Road Commission's Web site.

Editor's Note: The Marquette County Road Commission will hold another meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21, at the Ishpeming Township Hall, 1575 US Highway 41 W, Ishpeming, Mich.

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