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Fraser sinkhole might cost residents for a long time

Feb 8, 2017

Macomb County officials say Fraser-area residents may foot the bill to fix the sinkhole on 15 mile road.

The sinkhole that was discovered on Christmas Eve and forced 23 homes to be evacuated was caused by a collapsed sewage interceptor.

Repair costs are estimated to be about $80 million, according to county officials.

While the sinkhole wasn't the fault of any Macomb county residents, plans to fix the pipe include adding to their annual sewer costs for the next 25 years.

Dan Heaton, the public relations director for the Macomb County Public Works Office, said in an email that the county is seeking federal and state funding to help pay for the project.

“Absent this assistance, we project that a $150 million bond issued for 25 years would result in an 8-9 percent increase in sewer costs for the residents and businesses of the 11 communities,” Heaton said.

Heaton said fixing the sinkhole itself, or Phase I of the county’s plan, is currently out to bid, so the costs are only estimates.

“Once we are able to inspect the condition of the remaining sections of the interceptor we will have a better cost estimate for Phase II, sometime in late spring or early summer,” he said.

This means residents will pay about $40 more on their sewage bill annually, according to Heaton.

Candice Miller, the county's public works commissioner, said part of the costs will go to helping the three families whose homes were condemned due to the sinkhole.

“We feel that it's the right thing to do, I've been very open about it. And I have not heard one person say no we shouldn't do that. Most people say you have to do this, it's the compassionate thing to do,” Miller said.

Miller is also working to get federal and or state funding to fix the sinkhole.

“We're working that right now, and obviously if we're successful in getting any of that, the numbers will be lower for the rate payers. But it's all very speculative at this point,” she said.

Fraser Mayor Joe Nichols wants President Donald Trump to give the city federal funding to fix its infrastructure issues, but no such funding has been approved.

Some Fraser residents are still paying for fixes made to address a 2004 sinkhole that occurred less than a mile away from this most recent one.