Under a decision issued within the past week, the Marquette County Road Commission has 30 days to address objections to its proposed County Road 595 project by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA lifted its objection to the road commission's alternatives analysis for the proposed $82 million road project, but the federal agency reaffirmed its objection on minimization of impacts and compensatory mitigation plans for impacts to wetlands, streams and wildlife.
If the requirements are satisfied, the EPA will withdraw its objection and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality would be able to issue a permit for the project, with the backing of the federal government.
Jim Iwanicki, Marquette County Road Commission engineer-manager, said the agency is hoping to meet with the DEQ and EPA to get the outstanding issues resolved.
"We're going to try to work with the DEQ to address all their (EPA) concerns and still try to get a permit issued within the next 30 days," Iwanicki said. "We think we've got a shot to still try to make it happen. Our biggest concern is the 30-day window and the holidays included in that 30 days, whether people will be available."
We think the DEQ and EPA should make every effort possible to meet with the road commission or hold conference calls or whatever it takes to give the agency a fair chance at meeting the EPA's requirements.
Something like a holiday vacation schedule should not interfere with the ability of a public agency to get its project considered properly.
There have been months and months of work put into the County Road 595 project and its future should not be jeopardized by the inability of agencies to conference because of the holidays.
In the past, we have supported the County Road 595 project and continue to do so, hoping the hard work of all of the agencies involved has the chance to come to a proper resolution, one not based solely on time constraints of the holiday season.