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Grant will help upgrade roads leading to mill, Eagle Mine

May 18, 2012
By JOHN PEPIN - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - As part of $4.9 million in state Transportation Economic Development Fund grants announced Thursday, Marquette County will receive $2.6 for projects to enhance roadways serving the Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. mine and Humboldt Mill.

Kennecott will invest $659,420 as a match in the projects, which will affect Marquette County Road AAA near the mine site in Michigamme Township and County Road 601 and M-95 near Kennecott's Humboldt Mill ore processing center. Kennecott officials said engineering will be completed and construction is expected to begin early next year.

None of the grant funds announced by the Michigan Department of Transportation will support the building of Marquette County Road 595, which is proposed to extend from County Road AAA 21 miles south to U.S. 41, east of the M-95 intersection.

Article Photos

This recent aerial photo of the Eagle Mine in northwest Marquette County includes a view of a stretch of Marquette County Road AAA in upper right corner. Kennecott Eagle Mineral Co. has received a state grant that will help upgrade the AAA road, M-95 and an access road to the company’s processing mill in Humboldt Township. (Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. photo)

Permits to construct County Road 595 are under review by state and federal regulators. Kennecott would use that road to haul ore from its mine to its mill. In the meantime, the company has said it would need to improve existing routes for trucking.

Kennecott plans to truck the ore from County Road AAA to County Road 510 and down County Road 550 to Marquette before heading west toward the mill along U.S. 41 to M-95 and County Road 601.

Kennecott officials said the company is "pleased to announce that it will match grant dollars provided by MDOT's Transportation Economic Development Fund dollar-for-dollar to provide additional monies that will be applied to local infrastructure projects that benefit the entire community."

"We are delighted that by working together, Rio Tinto (Kennecott), the Marquette County Road Commission and MDOT will inject over $5 million to improve the safety and quality of our community's roads," Kennecott President Adam Burley said in a prepared statement.

The $3.3 million in road improvements involving Kennecott include reconstruction and paving of the County Road AAA to meet all-season standards. Horizontal and vertical alignment and drainage improvements will also be made.

MDOT officials said the improvements will extend the lifespan of the roadway and accommodate increased employee and commercial traffic.

The Humboldt Mill is situated along County Road 601, off M-95 in Humboldt Township.

In a news release, MDOT officials said that because the proposed improvements will generate a significant amount of employee and commercial traffic between the mine and the mill, M-95 will be widened at its intersection with County Road 601.

A center left-turn lane will be added to accommodate southbound M-95 traffic turning east onto County Road 601 and to improve motorist safety at the intersection.

County Road 601 is not currently built to all-season standards. It will be widened and reconstructed. A steep hill will be flattened and two sharp curves will be re-aligned to improve traffic safety and allow year-round access, according to a MDOT press release.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.



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