The collapse of a culvert beneath the road has created a sinkhole that completely bisects the residential street in Bloomfield Township, near Long Lake Road, off of Telegraph Road.

The collapse of a culvert beneath the road has created a sinkhole that completely bisects the residential street in Bloomfield Township, near Long Lake Road, off of Telegraph Road.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki

Years of inaction yield huge sinkhole, neighbors say

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 19, 2018


It’s been three years, countless patch jobs and now one massive sinkhole in the making. But finally, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for residents in the 3300 block of Devon Brook Drive, who’ve been waiting to see the culvert by their home fixed.

The culvert runs under the residential street, carrying brook water from one side to the other, and earlier this month the culvert collapsed and took the road above down with it.

The result is that what was once a pothole has transformed into a huge sinkhole in the middle of the street, spanning the entire width and making it impossible for vehicles or even pedestrians to travel north or south.

But help is on the way, according to Craig Bryson, spokesperson for the Road Commission for Oakland County. While maintenance of the road is the responsibility of the Road Commission, the culvert beneath is under the watchful eye of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The two agencies have been trying to come to an agreement for nearly a year on how the road and waterway should be repaired.

“We first filed (for permission to repair) the culvert in spring of 2017,” Bryson said. “The problem is not something new. We’ve been aware the culvert is in poor condition for a while. We’ve been working with the DEQ to get approval, and we planned to replace the culvert this year.  But on March 5 it failed and collapsed, and when that happened, we went to the DEQ and said it was an emergency situation, and because it’s an emergency, they agreed to let us formulate a plan to repair.”

The holdup to this point was in the culvert itself: Bryson said the MDEQ wanted to replace the existing tube with a much larger one, while RCOC didn’t see a need. A representative for the MDEQ could not be reached for comment March 19.

The collapse of road meant that the best-laid-plans were no longer an option, and a fast fix was in order. Bryson said a new culvert, of similar size to the existing one, has been ordered.

“There really wasn’t a holdup, since we wouldn’t be able to do the work until this year anyhow, but we’ve ordered the replacement culvert, we’ve got a contractor lined up, and it’s just a matter of getting the culvert delivered, mobilizing the contractor and all of that should take about four to six weeks.”

That’s good news for nearby residents like Rose Marie Robinson. She said she and her neighbors have complained about the road for years, without much response.

“We went to the township first, and they said it was Oakland County’s responsibility. What happened was, really, the homeowners would take care of the brook. Then after awhile, the structure over the brook started to collapse. Then the road started to collapse,” she explained. “And we kept reporting it, because it was a small problem before. Then it became a very large problem, and now it’s just a chasm.”

Robinson said that over the past few years, workers have patched holes in the road over the brook with tar and asphalt repeatedly, which meant there were often barriers erected in the tranquil space.

“It’s been unsightly. And we said, ‘You know this is really decreasing our property value to have these barriers always out there,’” she said, adding that she and her neighbors have seen their driveways deteriorate quickly too, since vehicles often come to the wonky cross and have to turn around.

When told the culvert and road were scheduled to be replaced in the coming weeks, Robinson said she’s hopeful the culvert will not only be safe, but aesthetically pleasing once again; the way it was when she and her family moved to the neighborhood in 1966.

“I hope they can fix it so we can have that beautiful brook again,” she said. “My kids used to ice skate on that brook, and now it’s been destroyed because everything has collapsed over it, and it’s all overgrown with weeds.”