To the Journal editor:
By now, we have all heard that the proposed Marquette County Road 595 has been ruled out as a viable option by regulators. This was our preferred transportation route for Eagle Mine.
We appreciate the hard work and perseverance by the Marquette County Road Commission and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. We also appreciate the support from community, state and federal leaders to permit CR 595.
During the review of CR 595 many alternatives were considered, including rail. After thorough and rigorous review, none of the alternatives were considered to be viable.
The conclusion of CR 595 brings to an end a seven year, $20+ million effort to permit a new north-south route in Western Marquette County. With production on the horizon the time for option analysis is behind us.
Our plan is to work with the MCRC and local units of government to utilize the existing roads for transportation during production.
We are committed to funding the MCRC to upgrade existing roads. These upgrades will benefit the community by saving tax payer dollars, improving more local roads to all season standards and enhancing recreational and commercial access.
We hope discussions on truck traffic are based on a factual understanding of our road use. During production we've estimated fifty round trips per day between the mine and the mill. According to a 2009 MCRC traffic study, our trucks on CR 550 are estimated to be 4-6 percent of total traffic.
On Wright Street our trucks will be an estimated 2-4 percent of total traffic. On U.S. 41, our truck traffic will be an estimated 1-3 percent of total traffic.
We will set the same high standards for transportation as we do for the rest of our operations. We will not compromise on safety. Our trucks will be new, clean, safe and fitted with GPS, which will determine location and measure driving habits and speed.
With CR 595 behind us we are gearing up for production, improving public roads, creating new job opportunities and paying local taxes that support our schools and local governments.
We will be providing more information on our transportation plans in the weeks and months to follow.
On this topic and other matters, we encourage individuals to go to our website at riotintoeagle.com, visit our Information Center in downtown Marquette or call us at 486-1257.