By MATT FURST
Capital News Service
LANSING — Some major changes will come to the Upper Peninsula in the next few years–if at least one U.P. legislator has his way.
Rep. Steve Adamini, D-Negaunee, said that he would like to see modifications made to the U.P. to increase business and the flow of traffic.
“I’m a believer in an adequate transportation network,” Adamini said.
The state representative, who is finishing his first term, said that he favors building a four-lane, north-south highway in the U.P. Adamini believes that will increase business opportunities in surrounding areas and create more jobs. Existing roads aren’t adequate for conducting business in the modern world, he said.
“It’s hard to attract business if you can’t transport goods,” Adamini said.
The increased flow of traffic could also counter the problem of decreased U.P. school enrollment, he said.More jobs would lead to more people raising families in the U.P., thus increasing enrollment, he explained.
Mike Gokey, director of economic development for the Lake Superior Community Partnership, said that the increased traffic would be very beneficial to the Upper Peninsula’s economy. He believes that a four-lane corridor would encourage more business in adjoining areas.
Rachael Johnson, head desk clerk at the Parkway Motel outside of Marquette, agreed that business would probably increase, but she isn’t certain how she feels about the proposed highway.
“I’m sure that it would be good for business, but personally I like how it’s quiet here,” Johnson said.
Rep. Adamini said that the idea of a four-lane highway in the U.P. isn’t new. He said that it’s been talked about for years and may not happen any time soon, he said.
A new highway isn’t the only idea that Rep. Adamini would like to implement, though. He would also like to see increased air transportation at the old K.I. Sawyer Airbase outside of Marquette.
“Business is mobile,” Adamini said. “People need to be able to access the Upper Peninsula like any other place in the world.”
Johnson said that traffic isn’t the problem with the airport, though.
“A lot of people just wish that the airport was located inside of Marquette, instead of being 20 minutes outside of town,” Johnson said.
Creating points of destination for tourists is also a high priority for Adamini. He said that many of people come to the U.P. to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, but that attractions need to be built, so that visitors will come and stay awhile.
Gokey agreed that the U.P. could use some more appeal to the average tourist. “We’re not really on the way to anywhere, so we definitely need to catch people’s interests,” Gokey said.
Johnson, however, said that she wouldn’t necessarily want more people visiting the area. “I like how there’s not many people around. I just like the way life is right now,” Johnson said.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By MATT FURST