Plan is offbase

To the Journal editor:

Reports in the Oct. 30 Mining Journal that the city of Marquette and Lundin Mining Co. have reached tentative agreements about a new “Hydro Plant route” is disturbing on many fronts.

To begin with, there’s nothing resembling a suitable existing road in that corridor. Talk of land ‘south of the railroad tracks’ is talk of a haul road obliterating portions of the Noquamenon trail, sections of the north NTN bike trails, putting a heavy truck route across the wetlands and beauty of the ox-bow or somehow skidding trucks down the sand pit.

This new plan will also require a brand new intersection for turning traffic near the foot of the Wright Street hill and a sizable new bridge across the Dead River. This plan neglects to grapple with the future forecasted road damage and public endangerment from Northern Michigan University’s truck traffic, a need to upgrade infrastructure, traffic planning and public safety remains at the SugarloafAvenue/Wright Street intersection.

When does the public get to weigh in on this proposed route? Is this how important city business gets conducted these days, cloistered talks between private mining interests and city commissioners?

Does the city’s elected officials think the public will buy into obliterating the recreation corridor west of Tourist Park as a cost worth paying, rather than simply beefing up and maintaining the long-standing truck route north out of the city? Does the public agree with this proposed use of publicly owned land? Is it a reasoned approach to traffic issues the region faces? If city manager Bill Vajda’s recent call for regional traffic studies is any indication, it’s not even a well considered plan.

This latest scheme fails to deal with existing traffic issues while creating brand new ones. Any ‘hydro plant route’ proposed by the city and the mining company has strong potential to degrade local quality of life and sully a recreational corridor enjoyed by many thousands of visitors in all seasons.

I am very concerned about this encroaching giveaway of public assets to a mining company’s short term haul needs. This is not a solution. It’s a poorly considered surrender.