MARQUETTE – The state House voted in favor Tuesday of a resolution that supports efforts by the Marquette County Road Commission to appeal a federal decision against the construction of County Road 595.
The Environmental Protection Agency denied approval for the road that would run from the Eagle Mine to a processing plant in Humbolt because it would pass through an area of wetlands. But State Rep. John Kivela of Marquette says it is a safer alternative to a route through Marquette.
“The solution to heavy trucks traveling on city streets and through Northern Michigan University is trading the current 120-mile round trip for a round trip of a little more than 40 miles on what will be County Road 595,” Kivela said.
State Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba has a similar resolution pending in the state Senate. State Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, said Senate support is needed to show a united front to the EPA.
“For the good of Eagle Mine and our communities, this road needs to get built sooner rather than later,” Dianda said.
Nearly 100 semi-trucks and contractor vehicles travel the 120-mile round trip every day from the mine to Humboldt along a route including portions of County Road 550 and other local streets. County Road 595 would divert that 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 EPA objected, despite the fact that the road commission offered some 26 acres of wetlands for every one of the 22 acres that was proposed to be relocated.
The shorter route from Eagle Mine to the company’s processing plant in Humboldt would also be a significant savings on fuel costs for the mine. And, construction of the 21-mile section between County Road AAA and U.S. 41 would create up to 200 construction jobs in the U.P.
“The overwhelming, bipartisan support that the resolutions received in the House today, I believe, are reflective of just how egregious the EPA’s actions were in denying County Road 595 from being built,” said Casperson.
The Senate is expected to vote on the resolutions next week.
Last week, Marquette County Road Commissioner James M. Iwanicki and Republic Township Supervisor Gary Johnson went to Lansing to testify in support of the resolutions at a joint meeting of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Transportation Committee.