ISHPEMING - The Marquette County Road Commission has voted unanimously to move forward with securing environmental permits for the construction of County Road 595.
After collecting public comment over the past month, the commission approved a change from the previously proposed Woodland Road for the roughly 22-mile north-south route from the Triple A Road in Michigamme Township to U.S. 41 near Humboldt.
"What we are talking about which alignment within that corridor we are going... The document is saying which alignment should we follow before sending the permit to the DEQ," MCRC Engineer-Manager Jim Iwanicki said.
The original route traveled east of Brocky Lake. At public comment sessions held in August, several comments were received requesting a route traveling between Brocky Lake and Wolf Lake, which will decrease the length of the road by 1.3 miles, add an additional creek crossing and impact 0.4 more acres of wetland.
Iwanicki said the road commission hoped to submit the CR 595 project to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in October to begin the environmental permitting process before snowfall this year.
Monday's road commission meeting was attended by about 100 people, including representatives from area municipalities as well as loggers and miners voicing support for the new road. Many said the road would improve commercial and recreational access to the northern portion of the county, as well as provide a more direct route from the Kennecott Eagle Minerals mine to its Humboldt Mill.
"We support the road 100 percent," Champion Township Supervisor Berle LaPin said. "It's an area that should be open so people can go in."
Representatives from other municipalities and organizations echoed LaPin's comments, adding that they believe the new road would reduce concerns over heavy traffic running through their communities.
"We've been living in Negaunee Township with loggers hauling through a densely populated residential area for years," said Bill Carlson, supervisor of Negaunee Township. "This is going to reduce it (traffic) dramatically."
Several state and federal government representatives also pledged their support to the road project, including state Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and an aide to U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls.
Also lending support was a group of employees of Norm Pestka Construction in Ontonagon, who arrived with a large parade float depicting mining and logging.
For others, however, the road plan still holds concerns, particularly in the environmental details.
"Generally, when I go through a plan like this I'm looking for detail," said Cynthia Pryor of Big Bay. "What I would like to see is this gets online sooner rather than later and as you make changes to the plan it's noted in a different color or in bold so that people can track the detail. This is a detail-oriented process. The review of this document is important to a lot of people ... to fully understand what's going on."
The finalized County Road 595 Alternatives Analysis and Project Assessment document will be posted on the road commission website, as well as being sent to a variety of locations around the county, including the Peter White Public Library and area municipal offices, along with a list of changes from the original plan to the one that was approved by the road commission Monday.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.