There was a sea change in the response to the proposed improvements for County Roads 510 and AAA tonight at the Marquette County Road Commission meeting in Ishpeming Township.
Last week, citizens of Big Bay and Powell Township piled into the Road Commission office to air their grievances. The majority of the opposition claimed the current route was not being improved upon as the original permit had stated, but rather rebuilt entirely as a haul road for Lundin’s Eagle Mine. The commission listened to their reasoning and addressed some of the issues that were presented, accordingly.
“I talked to the board members individually and they expressed some concerns, especially about the 510 canopy, and doing as much as we can to save that,” noted Jim Iwanicki, MCRC Engineer Manager. “The other thing that they expressed was that they wanted to use as much of the existing footprint as possible without compromising safety standards. So with that in mind, I asked the engineer to go back, take a look at that, and provide us the new alignment.”
The modified plan will use the existing centerline alignment and stay within the present right of way in an attempt to preserve and optimize the current footprint. It will also utilize a narrower road section throughout most of the route with a 12-foot car lane, a 3-foot paved shoulder and 5-foot gravel shoulder. The tree line on CR 510 will be pushed back no more than 10 feet from the gravel shoulder, and the rest of the route will limit the expansion as much as possible. Stretches of the route that include a ditch section could add 15 to 20 feet on top of that width so that the road can still be drained properly, allowing for a strong, sound structure.
“I was really pleased with the changes that they made to the initial part of the road that goes from 550 to Blind M-35. They stayed with the road and followed it, and that’s what we were asking for. We’re all real pleased with that,” remarked Dennis Boe, who owns property along the route. “But, the other part is the speed limit. Designing it for 55 mph and having a posted speed for 55 mph are two different things. We’re encouraging, I’m encouraging, them to participate in a study with the State Police and the Township to have a speed limit that’s less than 55. 35 to 40 mph is probably reasonable in that area. That road can be pretty treacherous in the winter time, and having a fully-loaded mining truck coming down, that’s a lot of weight.”
“The cross-section of the road is going to be the same on a 5 mph design speed or a 100 mph design speed because a 12-foot lane, a 3-foot paved shoulder, and a 5-foot aggregate shoulder is still the same width needed on all those areas,” Iwanicki added.
The next step for the $44 million project is to meet with all of the landowners and discuss the proposed route. Once those plans are 70 percent complete, an additional public information meeting will be held.