To the Journal editor:
There is a country wide glut of heavy truck traffic clogging the Interstate system. It grows worse yearly and isn't economically sustainable. While we move much freight by rail today, Heavy trucks dominate the transport sector. Increased rail traffic has to play a larger role in both the transportation and energy plans for the country.
Locally, there is talk of regional transportation studies and road building, given the problems presented by Lundin heavy truck traffic to accomplish moving ore from the mine to Humboldt.
Absent from the discussions for many years (Cliffs included) is using rail to accomplish the hauling task. Why not a rail line similar to the currently rejected new road? Or build a spur to an existing track.
Railroads are much more fuel efficient per ton mile, 75 percent cleaner than trucks for greenhouse gases, and leave a smaller environmental footprint. The cost to ship by rail has dropped 45 percent since 1980. In most cases, the cost to build and maintain rail per mile is less than roads
The current proposed solution of Lundin trucks bypassing most of Marquette solves only a portion of the problem. The fact remains: In addition to existing heavy truck commerce on the busiest highway corridor in the U.P., there will be another estimated 100 (total trips) ore trucks clogging the route from Marquette to Humboldt daily. Ten miles of the route is a two-lane road.
The trucks will prematurely age our highway infrastructure, compounding already inadequate funding resources for road maintenance. There will be more accidents due to the added slow moving brigade, especially given the tens of thousands of tourists we encourage to the area yearly. Snowy, dusty winter conditions will further impact safety on the heavily traveled route.
Roads and their upkeep will always be part of the needed infrastructure we provide for business and pay taxes for, but when an inordinate amount of heavy trucks specific to one stationary industry inundates our local road system, rail would seem, not only feasible, but a more responsible method of transport.
Talks with established rail companies should be part of any regional discussion for the U.P.'s future transport grid. Like the proposed road building, a joint venture between private and public could successfully ensue for the mine project.
Already promised monies could be used for rail instead of road.