Workers go underground to dig a shaft toward the Macomb Interceptor sewer along 15 Mile Road, west of Schoenherr Road, in Sterling Heights. Workers wish to reach the sewer so they can reinforce and protect it by mid-2022.

Workers go underground to dig a shaft toward the Macomb Interceptor sewer along 15 Mile Road, west of Schoenherr Road, in Sterling Heights. Workers wish to reach the sewer so they can reinforce and protect it by mid-2022.

Photo provided by the Macomb County Office of Public Works


Sewer lining work to begin along interceptor

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 9, 2021

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Four years after a Macomb County sewer collapsed and created a large sinkhole in Fraser, new work is beginning in the Sterling Heights area to make sure that such an event doesn’t recur.

In December, the Macomb County Public Works Office announced that a contractor is working on a $28 million sewer project related to the Macomb Interceptor sewer. The current work is located in Sterling Heights’ portion of the ITC Corridor, west of Schoenherr Road.

According to the county, the MIDD Interceptor flushes away the waste of over 500,000 county residents from Sterling Heights, Chesterfield Township, Clinton Township, Fraser, Harrison Township, Lenox Township, Macomb Township, New Haven, Shelby Township, Utica and Washington Township.

The Public Works Office expects the project to last until around mid-2022. Its goal is to dig a 65-foot shaft in the ground so that workers can access the sewer and reinforce it. The project should make sure another sinkhole or similar disaster doesn’t happen again, officials said.   

On Dec. 24, 2016, part of the interceptor sewer collapsed along 15 Mile Road, near Eberlein Drive, in Fraser, resulting in a sinkhole about as large as a football field, officials said. Residents from 23 homes had to evacuate due to the disaster.

County officials say part of the interceptor’s Segment 5 isn’t reinforced, but now work crews plan to line it. The project will cover around 7,000 lineal feet of sewer with “glass fiber reinforced polymer pipe,” and around 1,300 lineal feet will be sprayed with a “geopolymer coating.”

Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller, who took office days after the 2016 sinkhole emerged, promised to not have another interceptor sinkhole happen there again. She talked about the importance of investing in infrastructure to prevent disasters.

“This is a very important project. It’s such a critically important part of our infrastructure here in Macomb County and the region,” she said, “‘Out of sight and out of mind’ cannot be the way we look at our infrastructure. … Just like when you build a house, you’ve got to maintain it.”

The county arranged repairs to the interceptor in 2017, but more needed to be done elsewhere in Segment 5, Miller explained. She explained how Segment 5 runs beneath the ITC corridor’s transmission towers, as well as the Red Run Drain.

The Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage district board reportedly sued three contractors, arguing that they erred in sewer work that ended up leading to the sinkhole. The case was settled, and Macomb County reportedly got around $12.5 million. That money is going toward the new repairs, as well as an estimated $6 million in reserves. Bonds are funding the rest of the work, officials said.

In regard to the project, Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said the public is thirsty for somebody to step up to protect infrastructure. Based on what he knew, he believed that the new work would be a “great project for ratepayers.”

“We have to make sure it never happens again,” Taylor said. “Commissioner Miller has made a vow that, under her watch, it won’t happen again. She’s stepping up and putting her money where her mouth is. Water and sewer rates are a major concern to our residents, and we need to do something about this.”

At a Jan. 5 Sterling Heights City Council meeting, City Manager Mark Vanderpool cited Miller in assuring Sterling Heights residents that the repairs will not make their bills increase.

“According to the Macomb County public works commissioner, the $28 million project will not result in higher sewer rates to system users,” Vanderpool said.

“So I wanted those, especially, that live in the area to know that that work will be ongoing. It’s not very disruptive to traffic. However, it could be noisy at times. There could be obnoxious odors at times. But they’re trying to keep all of that to a minimum.”

Find out more about the Macomb County Public Works Office by visiting publicworks.macombgov.org.

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