You don't have to drive very far up Marquette County Road 550 to realize there is a whole lot of construction going on.
In fact, it becomes evident as you leave the city of Marquette and head north, running into the first project at the Dead River bridge over 550.
The roadway from Marquette to Sugarloaf Mountain was paved during the summer, and there are a handful of other projects ongoing as you travel north toward Big Bay.
Included are bridge replacements at Wilson Creek near Halfway Location and Alder Creek near Big Bay. Both stream crossings are now reduced to one lane with a traffic light controlling motorists.
In addition, new pavement was laid on a three-mile section from Harlow Creek north to a mile south of the Little Garlic River and on a four-mile stretch from the Big Garlic River north to Wilson Creek.
Work crews are also busy installing a passing lane in the Remington Road area, have replaced several culverts and officials hope to complete work on the road between Sugarloaf Mountain and Harlow Creek by Nov. 15, when work will wrap up for this year.
Marquette County Road Commission Engineer-Manager James Iwanicki said with the traffic signals, detours and flagged work zones, the 22-mile trip to Big Bay from Marquette takes about 30 minutes longer than usual.
All this work is being done to upgrade CR 550 into an all-season highway to serve as the haul road for ore from the Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains. Lundin Mining Corp., owner of the mine, is providing most of the funding for the work, as well as for planned upgrades next year on county roads 510, KAA and AAA for the Eagle Mine.
While these road projects and their related delays for drivers can be a little inconvenient, especially for regular travelers of the road, the work is necessary to make the road safer for all drivers - including mine truck operators as well as passenger and commercial vehicle drivers.
So give yourself a little more time when traveling on CR 550 this fall and enjoy the emerging fall colors in the woods lining it.