ISHPEMING - Local businessmen urged the Marquette County Road Commission Tuesday to look for alternatives and leverage to work around a trucking ordinance proposed by the city of Marquette, which would create roadblocks for big truck traffic, including vehicles hauling ore from the Eagle Mine to the Humboldt Mill.
"The city of Marquette is proposing an ordinance that would not allow any truck traffic to get to County Road 550 through the city and that includes whether it is construction vehicles, logging trucks, whether it's the propane truck, whether it's the fuel truck, all large truck traffic," road commission engineer-manager James Iwanicki told the panel. "I wanted to make the board aware of that issue."
Bill Hennigan, a forester for Holli Forest Products in Ishpeming, said he's been involved, with others, serving on road commission and County Road 595 ad hoc committees.
Bill Hennigan, a forester for Holli Forest Products in Ishpeming, talks about the problems with the proposed city of Marquette trucking ordinance at meeting Tuesday of the Marquette County Road Commission in Ishpeming. About 40 people attended the session. (Journal photo by John Pepin)
"We've been warning you guys and warning you guys and warning you guys that sooner or later, the city of Marquette was going to do this," Hennigan said. "Now, it's a thinly veiled attempt against the mine. OK. Fine. You're for the mine, you're against the mine. That's neither here nor there. The point is, those of us businesses that have been in business for decades - logging, sand and gravel operations, other operations - are now caught in the crossfire."
Hennigan said he has a timber sale to cut on Huron Mountain Club lands near Big Bay this winter.
"If the city of Marquette does this, I have no way to get that wood to market other than on a totally unsafe road of (County Road) 510 that we can't come down with a log truck because you have a restricted bridge," Hennigan said. "And as you people well know, we cannot make that hairpin (corner) in the wintertime. You cannot make it up and down that grade safely in the wintertime. And then what are you going to do when Negaunee Township does the same damn thing? You know that's going to happen."
Hennigan said roads in Michigan should be looked at on a county-by-county basis, rather than municipality-by-municipality level.
"Those things have to be worked on immediately, they should have already been worked on," Hennigan said. "You have a county road across through Forestville, now by calling it a county road, I'm being charitable, it's a goat trail as many of you know, but you need to start work immediately on upgrading those county roads through Forestville if Marquette is allowed to or is able to do this."
Hennigan said, "This is what one municipality can do to all kinds of businesses."
"I think it's imperative on the road commission to A: I'm sure you are, but work on this legislatively and B: I think you need to start looking at that county road across through Forestville yesterday."
Roger Crimmins of A. Lindberg and Sons agreed.
"We shouldn't be held hostage by the City of Marquette," Crimmins said. "They sat in on the ad hoc committees with us and they are holding us hostage, the citizens and the taxpayers of Marquette County and I would like the board to use whatever influence you've got to get us a good connector and not be held hostage by the city of Marquette because it's all about money from the City of Marquette."
Daniel Blondeau, Lundin Mining Corporation spokesman, said today, "We're reviewing the proposed ordinance to better understand what impact it would have on current construction activities and future operations at Eagle Mine. The proposed ordinance has the potential to negatively affect many jobs in the area."
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.