By John Waltman
The Newberry News has been kind enough to allow me to offer some information on the CR 407 road project. Thank you. Many folks have questions about the project, and not all information out there is correct.
First, the road project is solely a Luce County Road Commission project. They alone hired the general contractor, Coleman Engineering; and the road commission, after detailed cost analysis, determined the route change to include CR 410. My participation was fund raising only.
Second, the project is funded with 100% grant money, with no matching requirement.
Third, the H58 Reconstruction Project, Munising to Grand Marais, was completed in 2008. (The CR 407 project is the eastern extension of that project.) The National Park Service tracks visitor traffic statistics for each of its parks. In the year of the H58 project completion, Pictured Rocks visitor traffic grew from 398,774 in 2008 to 925,685 in 2022, an annual growth rate of 6.37% per year. However, visitor traffic was 1,212,251 in 2020 and 1,313,685 in 2021. Averaging the last 2 years and the last 3 years to determine the 2022 end point, the growth rates in visitor traffic are 8.26% and 8.49% respectively. Chief Ranger Joe Hughes, Pictured Rocks, attributes the lower traffic in 2022 to recession fears and high gas prices.
Fourth, there is broad support for the CR 407 project within our community. The project has support letters from the Newberry Area Tourism Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Luce County Economic Development Corporation, the Luce County Board of Commissioners, McMillan Township, Pentland Township, the Eastern UP Regional Planning, Invest UP, and MDOT. Five current and past Michigan legislators have offered letters of support for the project and were very helpful in obtaining funds received. These legislators include US Rep. Jack Bergman, Michigan senators Ed McBroom and Wayne Schmidt, and Michigan representatives Dave Prestin and Sara Cambensy.
Fifth, why would any east bound traffic turn towards Newberry? Here’s why: Newberry has many restaurants, many gas stations, many gift shops, and many motel rooms, plus two grocery stores, two drug stores, an ER, a walk-in clinic, several sports shops, equipment rental stores for snowmobiles, ORVs, kayaks and canoes, many churches, bars, resorts and campgrounds, two car dealerships, several automotive parts stores, banks, the post office, a movie theater, an ice cream shop, the Elks, the Legion. There are also many attractions in and around Newberry including the Toonerville Trolley, the Logging Museum, the historic old Sheriff’s residence and jail museum, and more. Last, Newberry is the logical route to the bridge for those visitors returning south.
This project will lift our economy for years to come.
John Waltman is a Deer Park resident. He has long advocated for the CR 407 road project.