Legislators hope bipartisan support will help get road built
LANSING, Mich.—State Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, and state Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, have introduced House Resolution 13 and Senate Resolution 9, respectively, in support of the Marquette County Road Commission’s appeal of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to deny approval for the building of County Road 595.
“The building of County Road 595 is supported by an overwhelming group of interests, individuals, stakeholders and elected leaders, including all the U.P. legislators, U.S. Congressman Dan Benishek, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and retired U.S. Senator Carl Levin,” said Kivela. “Building this road would reduce the heavy traffic on Marquette streets and cut fuel consumption by creating a shorter route for trucks to travel from the Eagle Mine to its processing plant in Humboldt. This is a win-win situation for everyone, and the EPA should get on board and allow this road to be built.”
Nearly 100 semi-trucks and contractor vehicles travel the 120-mile round trip every day from the mine to Humboldt along a route that includes portions of County Road 550 and other local streets. These trucks carry heavy loads through communities and across the campus of Northern Michigan University.
“I applaud the Road Commission’s decision to appeal the EPA’s arbitrary and unreasonable refusal to permit the construction of County Road 595,” said Casperson. “This decision is about the Upper Peninsula’s future. If the current decision by the EPA is allowed to stand, it threatens to affect or halt economic development in the Upper Peninsula. I am grateful the Road Commission has decided to stand up against out-of-touch bureaucrats in Washington who just don’t get it and are not at all concerned about our way of life in the Upper Peninsula. Frankly, we are tired of asking for permission to go to work.”
The House and Senate resolutions show bipartisan support for this new county road. Kivela and Casperson say the road is good for the mine and its jobs and will have a positive impact on the communities surrounding the mine. Construction of the road will also create as many as 200 construction jobs for U.P. residents. The road commission was unable to issue a wetlands permit needed to build the road because the EPA objected, despite the fact it offered some 26 acres of wetlands for every one of the 22 acres that was proposed to be relocated.
County Road 595 would decrease and divert the commercial traffic by completing a new Class A road over a 21-mile dirt road, connecting County Road AAA in Michigamme Township with U.S. 41 in Humboldt Township.
“The Marquette County Road Commission believes that the EPA decision to not lift their objections on our CR 595 permit is arbitrary and capricious,” said James M. Iwanicki of the Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC). “MCRC believes that in order to fulfill our mission to provide a safe and efficient system of county roads and bridges, we must appeal the EPA’s decision on CR 595.”
“Statistics do not lie. When you increase the number of vehicles on the road, while increasing the number of miles those vehicles are driven, you are also increasing the likelihood for accidents on our roads,” said Gary Johnson, Republic Township supervisor. “I support the Marquette County Road Commission’s appeal, because I believe public safety must be a priority.”