August 20, 2012
To the Journal editor:
The decision on Rio Tinto’s haul route is down to the wire and residents of Marquette County are stuck with a list of dismal options that include creating Marquette County Road 595 through a wilderness area, sending massive ore trucks down County Road 550 and through Marquette, and establishing a haul route on County Road 510 that would endanger residents and wildlife.
If County Road 595 is not approved, then Rio Tinto will seek another route for all those trucks. County Road 550 or County Road 510 are likely alternatives. As a resident of County Road 510, I stand with my neighbors; we do not want ore trucks on County Road 510. That route is a narrow, shoulderless road with winding curves and small hills that create blind sight areas.
The road is used by cyclists, snowmobilers, and ORV enthusiasts because several trails begin or cross the road. The road is also used by joggers and walkers. Deer, bears, and an occasional moose amble across County Road 510 from their wooded habitats to drink from the McClure and Dead River basins.
In the last five miles before County Road 510 intersects U.S.41, it winds through a residential area, built up with homes, many of them close to the road. Sending a constant stream of heavy truck traffic through this area would be irresponsible.
Perhaps the proposed County Road 595 route is the best solution to this problem, after all, but with the proviso that Rio Tinto pay the cost of the road and then restore it to its natural state when the mining process is complete.
This recommendation is similar to that extended to loggers who create temporary roads and build bridges that are required to be removed when the logging is complete. It would not be a county road and taxpayers would not be forced to pay for its maintenance. The 595 route would maintain the safety of County Road 510 and County Road 550, and would not bring trucks through the city of Marquette or populated areas of County Road 510.
It would, unfortunately, disrupt some wetlands and habitats, but perhaps with dedicated rehabilitation by Rio Tinto, those habitats could eventually be restored to something resembling their current state.