Road to ruin | The Mining Journal | April 7, 2013
To the Journal editor:
The Upper Peninsula has a long history of mining and logging. Regardless of one’s personal position on this issue, don’t let the county leave public safety on the side of the road when considering proposed truck routes in Marquette County.
The Marquette County Road commission and Rio Tinto are negotiating plans to spend over $40 million restructuring the roads leading to the Eagle Mine, including over 20 miles of restructuring work on Marquette County Road 550.
The shoulder widths being called for by the Marquette county roads commission are below Federal Highway Administration recommended minimum widths of four foot paved, and below Michigan state standards of a six foot paved shoulder called for during restructuring work, that will endanger the public’s use of the Big Bay highway.
The three foot paved shoulder proposed by the county road commission is below acceptable standards. In the interests of public safety and to adequately plan for future use of this valuable traffic corridor, the county should rebuild the Big Bay highway with the minimum acceptable shoulder width called for during a restructuring project.
The county is failing to consider additional growth in northeast Marquette County, the demands of emergency responders, a projected increase in non-Eagle Mine truck traffic, other commercial development, private landowners, the residents of Powell and northeast Marquette townships and the tourists and travelers to Big Bay.
The county’s plan also fails to adequately provide for safe non-motorized and recreational use of this valuable transportation corridor.
Everyone that travels the Big Bay highway should be concerned. Everyone with an economic stake in Marquette County’s future should be concerned.
Demand the county provide adequately for public safety. Develop the Big Bay highway to the minimum acceptable roadway design standards.
In the interests of public safety, economic stimulus and future growth, the county has the duty before it to add six foot paved shoulders during the Big Bay highway restructuring project.
Mike Beck, member
American Planning Association
Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals