Proposed County Road 595 is one green light away from being constructed. It's the route to be used by Rio Tinto Eagle Mine and other truck traffic if approved.
Marquette County Road Commission officials are pushing hard to get the Environmental Protection Agency on board. They say County Road 595 is the best possible route to improve access to northwestern Marquette County and reduce truck travel through population centers. A public forum is scheduled to take place at Northern Michigan University's University Center at 6 p.m. Tuesday, where forester Bill Hennigan hopes others would echo those goals.
"This is a true multi-purpose road. It benefits more than just Kennecott; it benefits the logging industry, the tourism industry, recreation, and it's also important for public safety," said Hennigan.
The proposed 21-mile road would cut nearly 80 miles from Rio Tinto Eagle Mine in Big Bay to their mill in Humboldt Township. One of the most critical intersections for truckers is US-41 and Wright Street. Officials say construction of CR 595 would substantially decrease the amount of traffic as well as reduce the risk of accidents.
"Traffic doesn't realize how long it takes for trucks to stop and they're in a hurry, and they'll pass you, and they'll turn left right away, and you have to be alert at all times driving one of these," said one truck driver.
But opponents have raised environmental concerns, calling the road a disruption to wildlife. The EPA also questions whether or not there are alternate routes that would have less impact on the wetlands.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday with Question & Answer session and public comment at 7 p.m.