Under the gun to make a prudent decision, with consideration for a wide-range of competing interests, the Marquette County Road Commission and its engineer-manager James Iwanicki performed admirably in their recent ruling on a controversial project to upgrade portions of Marquette County Road 510 and the Triple A Road.
The $20.8 million construction improvements are being made to provide an all-season route for the Lundin Mining Corp., which will haul copper and nickel ore from the Eagle Mine to the Humboldt Mill. Lundin is funding the project and its anticipated mine production start of November 2014 is playing into a timetable set for the road improvement process.
Road builders have a single construction season left to meet the production deadline, while opponents of the mine are acutely aware of the same time crunch, prompting them to push for delays for more discussion and study of the proposed road work in an effort to stall the mining company's plans.
The road commission agreed on an alignment last week, which will help designers move ahead with construction plans. However, the panel will hold another public meeting when design of the roadway is 70 percent complete.
Through several meetings,the public provided a good number of reasonable and important considerations for the road commission to act on. Some of those ideas included limiting tree clearing to maintain the tree canopy and keeping the County Road 510 portion of the road narrower and within the existing alignment, all of which were incorporated into recommendations made by Iwanicki and approved unanimously by the road commission board.
There were other considerations made as well, with the public lobbying for additional changes and road commissioners saying they are still listening.
We think the work by the agency to not only take public comments, but more importantly, to act on them, is commendable, especially when that is not always the chain of events that takes place when big decisions and big money are involved.