The proposed improvements for County Roads 510 and AAA were met with stark opposition tonight at the Marquette County Road Commission meeting in Ishpeming.
It was the third public meeting of it’s kind. The board of commissioners read aloud answers to questions that had been submitted by residents regarding the proposed plan. Afterward, everyone in attendance was given at least three minutes of public comment. The majority of the opposition claimed the current route was not being improved as the original permit had stated. Instead, they say it was being completely rebuilt using individuals’ private property as an entirely new haul road for the Eagle Mine.
The widths of portions of County Road 510 are currently about 30 feet and made mostly of gravel. The proposed renovations would widen those stretches to 66 feet by removing trees and private land on either side under the umbrella of eminent domain.
“Although I am not considered a major landowner by you, I can assure you all that it was a major land purchase for a middle-aged widow seeking peaceful refuge in the U.P.,” remarked Lynn Swanson, who lives at the crux of the two routes. “I had no idea there would be an Eagle Mine project in my future. It was not even in my realm of possibilities. I just proceeded to build my dream camp in 2001, and proceeded to enjoy my life. Little did I know what a hub of activity my small patch of land would become.”
“Everybody in Marquette County needs to know that the Road Commission and so on can come and take private property for the sake of one company,” alleged Marcia Gonstead, a resident of Powell Township. “As people are starting to find out about this they’re saying, ‘What? They can do that? And they would?'”
Speed limits on each road were also discussed. The proposed plans are designed using a 55 mph template. Residents of Powell Township and Big Bay living along the route think that’s too fast. They want the road designated as a 35 mph zone. Currently, there are no speed limit signs posted on either road and the law states that the speed limit on any unmarked county road is 55 mph.
Another public comment session is scheduled for next Monday at 6:00 pm at Ishpeming Township Hall where realignment will be discussed.