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Funds allocated for water main fixes and road resurfacing in Fraser

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published February 17, 2020

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FRASER — On Jan. 27, Fraser City Council approved a pair of water main projects and shored up plans in regard to a local road long in need of repairs.

The first of the two long-delayed water main projects will include a replacement of the water main on 14 Mile Road, from Edgegrove Drive to the railroad tracks. That will include three pressure-reducing valves that will act to ensure consistent water pressure in the system, as well as to curb potential main breaks due to pressure surges.

The approximate $3.6 million project will be funded through a 20-year, low-interest Drinking Water Revolving Fund loan through the state of Michigan. The loan will be paid back through charges already administered to city water customers.

Fraser Mayor Mike Carnagie said the valves will help reduce future main breaks while maintaining pressure control. He hopes for at least a 50% reduction in that department.

In early February, the city experienced a sewer main issue on 15 Mile Road, between Utica and Garfield roads, that was luckily caught before major damage ensued. It was about a $60,000 fix.

“Who knows what it would have cost if the whole system collapsed. … Catching these things ahead of time, just like stopping the pressure, will save us money in the long run,” Carnagie said.

Fraser Councilman Michael Lesich said the DWRF loan is available to municipalities as a means of keeping overall costs down for the state. He said the money is essentially borrowed and paid back at 2%, covering the cost of the loan and administrative fees.

The fixed monthly charge of $15.16 per bill residents currently pay supports the project without the need for a rate increase. It also funds day-to-day operations and paying back the debt service.

The other water-related project involves replacing a main on Utica Road, between 13 Mile and 14 Mile roads. The approximate $2.4 million project will be paid for in cash through savings accumulated in the water and sewer fund.

Lesich said Utica was in the crosshairs for a while, until a recent calamity upended plans.

“It was supposed to be done the same year the sinkhole happened (in December 2016),” he said. “The city made a decision — a wise decision — to delay that.”

In 2019, the council voted down the project.

Fraser Public Works Interim Superintendent Nick Schaefer said the pressure-reducing valves will control and maintain pressure for water provided from the Great Lakes Water Authority. The mains have aged, and “every time we have a water main break, it not only disturbs traffic” but costs add up, according to Schaefer.

The projects should commence, weather permitting, this spring. Bricco Excavating, headquartered in Oak Park, was the hired contractor. Schaefer said there were a handful of bids, with Bricco coming in the lowest at about $6 million.

Capital improvement plans also include resurfacing the entire stretch of Fruehauf Road, from Masonic Boulevard to 14 Mile Road. Schaefer said an all-new storm sewer will run down Masonic, and an all-new sidewalk will be put in on the west side of Fruehauf.

The total cost of that project is approximately $1.1 million, completely paid for with general fund dollars.

“That road’s been pretty much in our five-year capital plan for multiple years. … It needs to be repaired. It needs to be fixed,” Schaefer said.

Carnagie called the resurfacing “a long time overdue,” adding that it has more long-term viability than just doing patching. Resurfacing will also help reduce flooding on that road, which he called “a benefit for everybody.”

Financial allocations for park improvements were still taking place at press time. Carnagie said quotes were being gathered and hopefully being brought back soon to council members.

He said that targeting and improving parks of interest is good for keeping home property values up, while also drawing new people into the community.