MARQUETTE - With the city of Marquette and the Lundin Mining Corp. continuing to work on a memorandum of understanding regarding trucking issues, new details have emerged about exactly what the mining company has pledged.
In a recent letter, the Toronto-based mining company, which owns the Eagle Mine in Michigamme Township, laid out its commitments to the city of Marquette and the Board of Light and Power "in an effort to move truck route solutions forward."
The letter was addressed to the Marquette City Commission and was written by Lundin senior vice president Paul McRae.
A proposed trucking route bypassing the city of Marquette would come south and west from Marquette County Road 550 to this area of Wright Street, where trucks could continue to U.S. 41 through Marquette Township. The route will be studied over the next three months to see if the project is a viable short-term solution to trucking route issues faced by the city and the Lundin Mining Corp. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"Eagle Mine appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with the City of Marquette and the Board of Light and Power on finding truck route solutions that meet the needs of the community, road users and Eagle Mine," McRae wrote.
In the letter, McRae described the mining company's commitment to a proposed bypass trucking route around the city of Marquette, which would potentially use a BLP road.
"Eagle Mine will work with local units of government and other road users to identify potential truck route alternatives, with emphasis on a proposed bypass in the BLP corridor," McRae wrote.
McRae said the company would complete a scoping study of the proposed BLP bypass to determine the viability of permitting and construction.
"The scoping study will be at no cost to the BLP or the city of Marquette," McRae said.
McRae said the company looks forward to working with the city and the BLP "on finding transportation solutions that will meet both the short- and long-term needs of the community and trucking interests."
Last week, after receiving Lundin's letter, the city postponed action on a controversial proposed trucking ordinance for 90 days while the scoping study takes place and the viability of the bypass route is determined.
In the letter, Lundin also committed to contribute up to $500,000 to fund a regional traffic study, which was detailed in a recent white paper request, crafted by the Marquette County Road Commission and sent to state lawmakers.
According to that white paper, the funding would provide a study "that the community can use to identify existing traffic patterns and develop recommendations and options to address identified problems and public safety issues."
The study would also establish commercial corridors. The recommended corridors would include existing routes and identify proposed new routes which should be built to address public safety concerns.
A work session attended by about 75 people was held last week in Marquette Township where numerous municipalities gathered to talk about regional trucking solutions. Attendees included, in part, representatives from the Marquette County Road Commission, Marquette County Board, Marquette City Commission, Michigan Department of Transportation, Gov. Rick Snyder, Lake Superior Community Partnership, Lundin and the Marquette, Powell and Chocolay townships' boards.
The group agreed informally to set up a committee to work on regional trucking solutions, which would incorporate the study Lundin agreed to fund and other plans of the white paper, including pursuing renewed efforts to get federal permits granted for County Road 595.
The attendees also agreed to have the road commission lead the group effort going forward. Marquette Township officials were going to send a recaps of the meeting to attendees and the various representatives would take the issues back to their respective boards.
Meanwhile, Lundin spokesman Dan Blondeau confirmed prior to the current negotiations on trucking route solutions, the mining company had offered the city of Marquette $3.7 million to upgrade Sugar Loaf and Wright Street, which were expected to be used by the mining company as part of its transportation route to move ore from the Eagle Mine in Michigamme Township to the Humboldt Mill in Humboldt Township.
The city's proposed ordinance had not included those road segments as designated trucking routes, nor any connection to Marquette County Road 550, which the mining company and a range of other haulers need to get goods and services to and from Big Bay.
Blondeau said the memorandum of understanding with the city is still being finalized.
"We cannot speculate on the details of the MOU, a draft has not been produced," Blondeau said Saturday.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.