Eastpointe plans fewer street repairs, more sewer work

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published May 24, 2016

 The city will shift focus towards sewer and water line repairs and replacements this summer.

The city will shift focus towards sewer and water line repairs and replacements this summer.

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EASTPOINTE — The city still has some street repairs planned for the summer construction season, but it is focusing more of its efforts on sewer and water line repairs and replacements.

Tony Pry, Eastpointe’s Department of Public Works supervisor, said Eastpointe has plans to resurface Roxanna and Johnston streets between 10 Mile and Stephens roads this summer. The work will take place sometime after July 1 — when the next city budget goes into effect — but Pry said no specific times have been set in stone yet.

Pry said the city has just shy of $6 million in federal road funding coming in during the next four years that the city will apply to long-term road repair plans, including work on Toepfer, Vernier and Kelly. None of that is planned for this year, however.

“Everyone wants to do the cosmetics, since you can see the roads,” Pry said. “But you still got to fix what’s underground.”

City Manager Steve Duchane said the city has $5.3 million budgeted for infrastructure spending this coming fiscal year, pending council approval of the budget.

“It does follow our capital improvement plan,” Duchane said. “(It is) including streets, sewers and sidewalks.”

The water and sewer work is part of a years-long process the city has gone through to upgrade its system, Duchane said, which dates back to before he became city manager in 2011. In addition to water main replacements to help stem water loss, the city had a program to help replace service lines to property owners as well.

Pry said the city is in the midst of sewer work throughout the city, where crews are either doing open cut — they dig into the ground, cut out the old pipe and install the new one — or other methods, such as sewer lining, depending on the location.

“We have another company in town that can go in and line the pipes with a hot composite plastic that’s a ‘cure-in-place,’” Pry said. “And then we’re pulling liners, where you pull the 200-400 feet (of pipe) you need. You pull it through the old sewer line and burst the pipe, and it lays the new sewer line right in its place.”

The city just replaced a 12-inch water main on Kelly Road over the winter as well, Pry said. In all, he said about $4 million of the budgeted infrastructure money this year is going toward sewer projects, a sizable amount given the small size of the city.

Duchane said that Eastpointe has been “ahead of the curve” on these infrastructure issues compared to other Michigan communities, but that the curve is a steep one.

“Funding — major and local street funding, and sewer and water funding — goes only so far. We don’t have a good system (in the state),” Duchane said. “The system for road funding no longer keeps up with necessary investment across all municipalities and counties. You’re falling further behind despite your best efforts, at times.”