Macomb County's $72M in infrastructure gains touted

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

St. Clair Shores — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday touted millions in infrastructure dollars coming to Macomb County that officials plan on using to address long-neglected waste water projects to stop sewer overflow, sinkholes and flooding.

The $72 million Macomb County will receive is part of a $4.8 billion infrastructure supplemental spending bill approved last week that lawmakers called "monumental" and "historic."

The spending bill designated mostly federal money to improve infrastructure, protect drinking water quality, improve transportation and provide rental assistance. Whitmer is expected to sign the bill, which has not yet been sent to her desk.

The bill was truly a bipartisan effort to get needed infrastructure problems solved, Whitmer said.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer outlined on Monday some of the infrastructure gains for Macomb County in a $4.8 billion infrastructure spending bill that relies mostly on federal money. Whitmer billed the bipartisan effort as "Building Michigan Together."

"We know that roads, bridges, infrastructure, water, none of this is inherently partisan. All of it is something that everyone of us relies on," the governor said. "Once again, we have proven that Michigan Republicans and Democrats can come together to get things done."

The news conference in a building just off Lake St. Clair featured Whitmer, who was flanked by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel; Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller; State Sen. Mike McDonald, R-Macomb Township, and State Rep. Kevin Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores.

Miller said the need for this federal money and the bipartisan agreement was "as close to unanimous I think as you could possibly get in today's environment," said Miller, a Republican and former congresswoman.

"How great for all of us whether you're in Macomb County or Oakland County or Muskegon or wherever you are, these are the kinds of things that I think people want to see," she said. "Because when you talk about underground infrastructure..., I think it really speaks to the kinds of programs that the federal government wanted the state legislatures to spend these dollars on."

Part of the $4.8 billion would be used for these projects:

  • Using existing infrastructure to allow for the “storage” of combined sanitary sewage and storm water flow inside the 11-foot-diameter pipe that serves the city of Eastpointe and most of St. Clair Shores. It's expected to reduce combined sewage discharges 30% at the Chapaton Pump Station in St. Clair Shores to Lake St. Clair.
  • An in-system wastewater storage project inside the existing underground infrastructure near the Martin Retention Basin, which handles combined sewer flow from the city of Roseville, that will reduce combined sewer overflows by 20%.
  • Construction of a new pump station at Nine Mile Road at Jefferson Avenue — the first new pump since 1968 — to increase sewer capacity and protect basements from flooding.
  • Ongoing rehabilitation of the Macomb Interceptor sewer along 15 Mile Road. The giant pipe carries the sewage of nearly 600,000 residents and businesses in Macomb County.

Hackel said the $72 million boost his county needs, even though there's many more millions of dollars needed.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, left, and Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller share a laugh together during a press conference announcing the details of the Building Michigan Together plan, Monday, March 28, 2022 in St. Clair Shores.

"Is it going to help us with some of the things that we need to deal with right now that we are concerned about so we don't have another sink hole? Absolutely," he said. "I think what we're looking at from our public works is to make sure that we don't have to use many sewer discharges as we have seen in the past."

Hertel said his priority is protecting drinking water and improving the county's infrastructure.

"We are all working together to protect this body of water (Lake St. Clair)," Hertel said. "We are making sure we are putting our money forward to address decades long issues across this county."

McDonald said he felt Macomb County wasn't getting its "fair share" until these dollars rolled in for these needed projects.

"This funding is a game changer for Macomb County," he said.