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Marysville — A natural gas distribution company is preparing to replace a pipeline that runs underneath a river in eastern Michigan.

Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline cuts through Marysville and the St. Clair River.

The company is working to secure the proper state and federal permits for the project, said Paul Meneghini, a senior manager at Enbridge.

The line crosses the U.S.-Canadian border so the company must also acquire Canadian permits.

Construction likely won’t start until the end of next year, Meneghini said.

“All dependent on permitting,” he said. “But the intent is to move forward as soon as we can, as practical as we can once all the permits are in hand.”

The work is expected to take about two months to complete.

An agreement with the Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration requires Enbridge to replace a section of Line 5, temporarily shut down the pipeline when adverse weather creates waves higher than 8 feet for at least an hour and conduct a study on building a new pipeline in an underground tunnel underneath the straits.

Line 5 carries about 23 million gallons of oil and some liquid natural gas through the Straits of Mackinac each day.

Activists and officials across the state have been calling for the line’s decommissioning amid concerns of its condition. The company has seen nothing to spark concern about the line’s integrity, Meneghini said.

Kellie Randolph lives near the pipeline. She said her family is concerned about the project’s timeline.

“We were concerned about safety and are still concerned about safety,” she said. “Just the concern that it’s a pipeline and I don’t know what’s going to happen with that.”

Workers will use a drill to tunnel underneath the river for the new pipe. The new pipe will be connected to the existing system on the Canadian side.

The current pipeline was laid in 1953 and is 4 to 15 feet below the river, Meneghini said.

The replacement line will be 30 feet or more below the bottom of the river.

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