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Macomb County

15 Mile Road Reopens; Sinkhole Repair Finished

Officials from Macomb County, Clinton Township and Fraser hold a ribbon as Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller drives through the ribbon, opening 15 Mile Road to traffic.



Public Works Candice Miller, in a Ford Mustang, preparing to drive down 15 Mile Road to open that road to traffic between Hayes and Utica roads, the site of the 2016-2017 sewer collapse sinkhole and repair.



Candice Miller is joined by elected officials from around Macomb County at the announcement that 15 Mile Road is now open to traffic between Hayes and Utica roads.





15 Mile Road Reopens



Audio Clip



Candice Miller is joined by elected officials from around Macomb County, including from left, County Treasurer Larry Rocca, County Executive Mark Hackel and (right of Miller) Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon, at the announcement that 15 Mile Road is now open to traffic between Hayes and Utica roads.

Sinkhole by the numbers

  • 110,000: Number of flyers distributed by the Macomb County Public Works Office to educate the public about “ragging” – flushing items such as baby wipes down the toilet. These items do not break down, causing sewer pumps to get choked on rags and not work efficiently.
  • 4,000: Linear feet of 9’2” diameter pipe that was used to fix the collapse and line an adjacent segment of pipe in danger of collapse.
  • 2,250: Combined horsepower of the eight pumps installed to lift the sewage from 60 feet down, up to road level to pass through the bypass system installed to send sewage around the blocked collapsed area of the interceptor.
  • 1973: The year the MIDD pipe was created. The 11-foot diameter pipe, which is 60 feet below the surface was built by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and sold to the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District in 2009. The system had suffered similar collapses in 1978 and 2004.
  • 347: Number of days between the collapse of the MIDD system and the re-opening f 15 Mile Road.
  • 150: The cubic feet per second of sewage that the bypass system was built to accommodate – enough to fill a 12-foot x 24-foot swimming pool with 5 feet of water in 15 seconds.
  • 75: Total cost, in millions of dollars, for the repair of the collapse.
  • 11: The communities that make up the MIDD: Fraser, Sterling Heights, Utica, New Haven and Clinton, Shelby, Macomb, Chesterfield, Harrison, Lenox and Washington Townships.
  • 1.2: Length in miles of the bypass system that was built above ground to carry sewage around the collapse.

347 days after a sinkhole developed alongside a home in Fraser, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller has declared the $75 million repair of the 15 Mile sewer collapse to be substantially completed. Miller was joined by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and other local leaders as she drove a Ford Mustang through a ribbon on Tuesday morning to ceremoniously mark the re-opening of a newly-repaved 15 Mile Road. The road completely opened to traffic about 30 minutes later, on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

“This day has been a long time coming,” Miller said. “But when we stop and realize what has happened here in just under a year, it truly is a testament to the engineers, the construction crews, the finance team – just everyone who has been part of this team to bring us to this point.

“Most importantly, I want to thank those residents and business owners who were most directly impacted by this collapse. You really showed us what Macomb County people are made of and reminded me yet again of why I am so proud to be a part of this community,” Miller said.

The completion of the road pavement work on 15 Mile Road was the last major step in the completion of the sewer collapse. On Christmas Eve 2016, an 11-foot diameter sewer interceptor under 15 Mile Road, between Utica and Hayes roads, collapsed, creating a 260-foot by 50-foot sinkhole that destroyed the road and damaged two homes. The sinkhole blocked off access to a home on 15 Mile Road and 22 homes on Eberlein Drive in Fraser, causing those homes to be evacuated for about two weeks, beginning on Christmas Eve. Three homes were purchased by the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District, which owns the underground pipe, and eventually two were demolished. The third home purchased by the MIDD is expected to be put on the market for sale in the spring.

With support from the Macomb County Board of Commissioners and County Treasurer Larry Rocca, the MIDD borrowed $20 million from the county to begin emergency repairs on the project. Eventually, the MIDD would sell $75 million in bonds to pay for the repair and pay back the county treasurer. The MIDD is comprised of 11 Macomb County communities – Fraser, Sterling Heights, Utica, New Haven and Clinton, Shelby, Macomb, Chesterfield, Harrison, Lenox and Washington Townships. The sewage from about 440,000 residents, more than 41,000 businesses and Selfridge Air National Guard Base passes through the line on its way to a treatment facility in Detroit. Macomb Community College supported the project by allowing the Public Works Office to use a vacant lot owned by the college near the sewer collapse to be used as a construction staging area.

“Equally important to getting this job done is the fact that since we took office on Jan. 1, we were able to accomplish this without one single drop of sewage from entering the Clinton River. I can’t tell you how close we came on several occasions, but we were committed – and remain committed – to protecting our local waters and, ultimately, our magnificent Great Lakes,” Miller said.

While 15 Mile Road is repaved and sewage began flowing through the repaired interceptor line on Sept. 26, some minor work remains to be done at the site, to include spreading grass seed and some other finishing touches that need to wait until spring.

As part of the sewer repair process, the Macomb County Public Works Office engaged a firm to conduct a complete review of the MIDD system, using video cameras, sonar testing and, where possible, visual inspection of the underground pipe. The review is being used to develop a preventative maintenance plan for the system going forward.

“This MIDD collapse, as terrible as it was, may have served as something of a canary in the coal mine. We ae aggressively moving to inspect all of our underground infrastructure and developing maintenance plans accordingly. These systems have been neglected for too long, to the detriment of our community. Those days are now in our past,” Miller said.