A pump station on I-75 in Madison Heights on Tuesday. MDOT oversees 165 pump houses, of which 139 are in the metro region. (Charles V. Tines / Detroit News)
This week’s deluge didn’t just close Metro Detroit’s freeways, it also revealed the poor condition of the infrastructure that is needed to maintain metro area roadways.
That’s the stark assessment of the Michigan Department of Transportation, which on Wednesday described that infrastructure as old and inadequate.
“Infrastructure is more than roads and bridges,” said Jeff Cranson, MDOT director of communications. “It includes water mains, storm sewers, drainage, pumping stations and more.”
Cranson, who said the initial cleanup costs of the freeways were $500,000, noted that Monday’s storm was of such historic proportion that “even with better pump stations, they still would have been overwhelmed.”
“The Interstate 696/I-75 flooding was due to a massive slope failure that took out all power supply to the pump station,” Cranson said. “Some instances were due to there being such extreme flooding that the water had no where to go. The rivers were overflowing so after the water was pumped by the station, it came right back.”
Tons of debris in the form of mud, tree branches and litter also impeded the pumps, plus there were scattered power outages that left the pumping stations without electricity.
MDOT oversees 165 pump houses, of which 139 are in the metro region, including 119 operated by Wayne County.
According to MDOT, 58 percent of the pump houses are in poor condition, 20 percent in fair condition and 22 percent are in good condition.
“Our long-term goal is to have 90 percent in good/fair condition, but that’s not realistic given funding challenges,” Cranson said.
According to Cranson, the annual operations budget for pump houses is $2.8 million with annual maintenance costing $400,000. The capital improvement/replacement budget is about $4 million. But the average cost to replace or upgrade a single pump house is $1.5 million.
The $500,000 to clean up the freeways after Monday’s deluge will come from the state’s maintenance budget, the same budget that was tapped to help cover the costs of the brutal 2013-14 winter.
“It’s possible there may be some federal emergency reimbursement down the road,” Cranson said.