By Sterling McGinn
On Tuesday, November 8, the Luce County Road Commission held their monthly meeting where an update was presented regarding the proposal to pave county roads 410 and 407.
Ten members of the public were present at the November 8 meeting, which took place in the road commission offices at 7 a.m.
Although some anticipated the board moving forward with the project at the November meeting, there was no board action taken. A number of comments, however, were heard from those in attendance.
The proposed project was first announced at a public hearing that took place on October 19, where the Luce County Road Commissioners stated the initial project of paving county road 407 had been altered to paving 410 linking to 407.
The road paving project has been in the works for years, and received funding through a grant written by resident John Waltman. The project currently has one third of the money needed to move forward.
The matter became a hot topic and has sparked many concerns from residents living near and around where the paving project would be moving forward.
County Road Engineer and Manager Stuart McTiver said the route change was due to high water at Muskallonge Lake as well as significant wetlands and private buildings in the road right-of -way.
“We received some good input from the public and since that meeting, we met with Coleman Engineering and we did an update with the plans,” McTiver said. “They have now turned in a permit to EGLE (Michigan Department of Environmental, Great lakes and Energy) to look at the wetland impacts, which at this point, they have been able to mitigate most if not all of them with either change in side-slopes or realignment.”
McTiver said there will be some impact to critical dunes, and the commission is working with EGLE to mitigate that.
“They are looking at something probably similar to what was done on the dunes on US-2,” he said. “Years ago, when we did that project, we had to have dune grass planted when we cut back all of the dunes that were blowing out on the highway.”
The engineers are now working to get the alignment of record mapped so they can present the proposal to DNR for any right-of-way that would take place on state land.
McTiver also told the board that Coleman Engineering believes the plans are about 90 percent complete. “The next step would be to solicit construction sometime in the near future or the dirt work which is anticipated this coming summer,” he said.
“I am in favor of 410 versus 407; there’s just not enough room,” said Matt Perry, who owns property on 407. “Most of them don’t have enough property to begin with and I think 410 is a better fit.”
“The input has been a question of traffic,” said Deer Park resident James Brettner. “As far as I am concerned, with the state park hosting 150 campsites, there is enough traffic.”
Brettner believes a majority of people do not want 407 to be paved and opened, and that the county should use the 410 route if the project moves forward. “There is only one other option,” Brettner said. “That is to scrap the whole project and leave it the way it was, and then everybody would be happy.”
“You told me before that traffic is going to increase from 800 a day to 2,500 with the addition of this road going through,” said 407 resident Terry Trepanier.
“So, we are going to have 2,500 cars a day going through that little area we call Windy Corners…going through those curves?
“You know because you have to keep replacing the aggregate right there in front of my house, because the people keep running off the road.”
He also expressed his concern for safety and potential auto accidents with the increased traffic and speed and the amount of time for paramedics to reach the scene of the accidents if they occur.
“What is the road going to do for the community?” Trepanier asked. “Here is how I look at it—They are going to come from the east—from the park and Paradise—go to Four Mile Corner and go through and they are going to miss Newberry. You as a board need to sit down and talk about how to inform the public better; I know you are going to get more road mileage out of this, but what positive benefits does this have for the community?” Trepanier said.
Funding for the proposed project would come from a grant through the State of Michigan with the potential of COVID relief funds. The grant currently has no required match, but the project would not be advertised unless 100 percent of the funding is secured.
The commissioners informed the public in the hearing in October that no Luce County funds would be used for the construction and paving of the roads.
“The next phase of funding hasn’t been spoken on as of yet,” stated McTiver. “The legislature is out campaigning at the moment, and we should be able to get more information after things settle down.”