Car crash causes sinkhole in Shelby Township

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 11, 2021

 A car drove off the paved surface on Schoenherr Road, between 21 Mile and 22 Mile roads, and hit a fire hydrant, which led to this sinkhole opening up and destroying part of Schoenherr Road Dec. 16.

A car drove off the paved surface on Schoenherr Road, between 21 Mile and 22 Mile roads, and hit a fire hydrant, which led to this sinkhole opening up and destroying part of Schoenherr Road Dec. 16.

Photo provided by Rick Stathakis

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Both directions of Schoenherr Road were closed Dec. 16 and Dec. 17 between 21 Mile and 22 Mile roads in Shelby Township for emergency road repairs after a vehicle crashed into a fire hydrant and caused a sinkhole.

A portion of the road collapsed into the sinkhole. The road remained closed into the morning Dec. 17 while road crews worked to complete a temporary repair.

Brad Bates, the media relations director for Shelby Township, said the crash caused a chain reaction leading up to the road collapse.

“In addition to damaging the hydrant, the impact also damaged the underground water main attached to the hydrant. The resulting water flow washed out a significant portion of the road’s underground infrastructure, which resulted in a sinkhole,” he said via email.

There were no serious injuries reported from the crash.

Bates said that, in a matter of two days, the Shelby Township Department of Public Works and the township engineers at Anderson, Eckstein & Westrick Inc. were able to stop the flow, repair the main and temporarily patch the hole.

He said the damage was assessed and a cost estimate was determined.

“The township is investigating all possible means to recover funds from any at-fault parties to cover this expense,” said Bates.

Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said that there are many departments working together to fully repair the damage and reopen the entire road, which will cost a large amount to repair.

“A preliminary cost to fully restore this section of the road is $500,000,” Stathakis said in an email.

A temporary drivable surface is in place, with only the right lane on southbound Schoenherr closed at this time. A permanent fix will be put in place in the spring, if not sooner.

“This situation’s fast response was made possible because of the fantastic relationship between the Shelby Township DPW, the Macomb County Department of Roads and the township’s engineering firm, AEW. All will continue to work as a team to restore Schoenherr to its original form,” said Bates.

Officer Leslie Heisler, of the Shelby Township Police Department, said that during the incident, police were on the scene making sure that everyone was safe and the repairs were moving along smoothly.

“The roadway was closed for at least a day and a half, as the Road Commission and township worked to restore the surface. From what I hear, there will be some major work done in the spring there, but for now, they have it fixed and passable. It was a mess, but we weren’t really involved except to check the area every once in a while and make sure everybody was following the rules,” Heisler said in an email.

Residents and other drivers were asked to avoid the area while the road and water main repairs were being completed. For more information on the incident, call the township at (586) 731-5100.

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