Boards and townships still split CR-595 while elected reps support EPA lawsuit

Boards and townships still split CR-595 while elected reps support EPA lawsuit

MARQUETTE — Despite that two city boards are split and a majority of the townships in Marquette County still can’t agree on CR-595, two elected representatives are claiming “overwhelming support” of an EPA lawsuit that would allow for a new road to Eagle Mine.

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.

John Kivela claims County Road 595 is supported by groups 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.”

However, locally, not everyone agrees. The Ishpeming City Council debated this topic at its meeting Wednesday, but the council was split on how to move forward. Some are worried about the heavy trucks creating pavement damage would be dangerous to small cars and motorcycles.

Others felt this was a good alternative to having those heavy trucks on US–41.

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Two years ago the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refused to remove their objections to the proposed Marquette County Road 595 and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality did not issue a permit for it. A recent lawsuit filed by the Marquette County Road Commission has left city boards in Ishpeming and in Marquette split on the issue. During a January meeting of Marquette County Township’s Association in Negaunee Township, representatives only of about half of the 19 townships voted to support the Road Commission’s resolution.

“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,” said Kivela. “This is a win-win situation for everyone, and the EPA should get on board and allow this road to be built.”

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Wildcat Canyon in the potential CR 595 corridor. The proposed 21-mile primary county road, running north-south between U.S. Highway 41 and County Road Triple A, would connect the Eagle Mine with the Humboldt Mill. (Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Eagle Eye)

The Marquette County Road Commission decided to sue the EPA last month over the proposed mine road that would connect the Eagle Mine with its ore processing facility at the Humboldt Mill.

The Commission was seeking a wetland fill permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in order to build the proposed County Road 595, but it was denied.

The Road Commission claims this would make nearby roads, like the current route on County Road 550, safer, and even reduce air pollution. If built, County Road 595 would span almost 22 miles through Champion, Ely, Humboldt and Michigamme Townships, connecting US-41 to County Road Triple A.

Read more data about EPA lawsuits.

In its permit application, mine officials said the construction would affect nearly 26 acres of wetlands and require 22 stream crossings. 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.

“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.

The House and Senate resolutions wish to 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.