Fraser — Gov. Rick Snyder visited Fraser on Sunday to assess damage caused when a sinkhole opened up after a sewer line collapsed on busy 15 Mile last month, displacing homeowners and requiring a temporary bypass of the ruptured line.
The governor’s tour came two days after he declared a state of emergency in Macomb County to help coordinate with the state on repairs.
“This affects real people’s lives in terms of having to leave their homes and other challenges, but also the long-term risks,” Snyder said after a briefing and a walk of the site, which was led by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and county Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller.
Snyder spoke from a command center at the Fraser Square strip mall, headquarters of the recovery effort. The smell of sewage was evident in the mall.
“Ultimately, this illustrates our aging infrastructure,” Snyder said. “We need to be looking out not just for the next 50 years — these are issues today, in Flint and here.
“We need to get on top of them,” he continued.
The price tag on the fix will be in “the tens of millions,” Miller said.
While 19 of the 22 evacuated homes are expected to be livable again for their owners as early as Monday, three homes have been condemned, Miller said. A temporary road has been built in anticipation of returning homeowners, and natural gas service has been restored. Water to the homes has been tested and will be retested.
The mayor planned a meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall on Monday to update residents on the progress of repairs.
Hackel said the county would like to be able to buy those homes, but details are incomplete.
Still, he warned that a larger infrastructure investment was needed, not simply a fix for the sinkhole.
“Everybody has this expectation that because there’s a state of emergency ... that all of a sudden there’s some magic pot of money that gets bestowed upon you,” Hackel said. “We need to come to the realization that we have some serious infrastructure issues.”
Snyder’s emergency declaration was requested by Hackel on Thursday and allows the Michigan State Police’s emergency management and homeland security division to “coordinate state efforts.”
By requesting the governor’s declaration, the county has indicated local resources are insufficient and state help is required to protect public health, safety and property.
“The state is committed to using all of its resources and working with local partners to ensure this community recovers and residents return to a sense of normalcy,” Snyder said Friday in declaring the state emergency. “I’d like to thank emergency responders and the many others who have been working hard to address this situation,” Snyder said.
Fraser had been under a local state of emergency since the sinkhole opened up on Christmas Eve due to the leaky sewer line between Utica and Hayes roads. The 100-foot-wide, 250-foot-long sinkhole was caused by the collapse of the leaking Macomb Interceptor Drain sewer main that runs under 15 Mile, the border between Clinton Township and Fraser, officials said.
Miller said last week that the county may seek use bonds and a rate hike to repair damage from the sewer collapse. She had no estimation of the cost of repairs or how big of a rate hike could result.
The collapse is the third to happen in the area in about 40 years and came 12 years after a smaller collapse led to a $50 million fix that took 10 months to complete.