Severe erosion prompts emergency action near I-94 by Macomb County officials

Anna Liz Nichols
The Detroit News

Severe erosion near Interstate 94 has Macomb County officials worried the freeway eventually could collapse and is prompting emergency action, county Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said Monday.

The banks of the Rohrbeck Extension Drain near 13 Mile are eroding, creating the worst erosion situation the county has ever seen, Miller said in a statement, prompting an emergency because of the high volume of traffic the freeway handles. This portion of I-94 handles about 44,000 vehicles a day.

The county has about 500 drains and about a month ago starting monitoring the  Rohrbeck Extension Drain when the county noticed erosion, Miller told The Detroit News Monday.

Macomb County plans to take emergency action to stop severe erosion near Interstate 94 in Roseville from getting perilously close to the freeway, county Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said.

“Even though we’ve had drought conditions, we’ve seen these banks erode approximately 6 feet in some spots just in the past few months," Miller said in the statement. "We’re concerned that very heavy rains could accelerate that erosion.”

Miller estimates repairs to the embankment will cost $200,000 to $300,000 and she's cobbled together drain funds within the county to cover the cost.

Westbound traffic would be affected if the bank failed, according to the county Public Works Commissioner's Office. The two portions of banks near I-94 being threatened are each less than 30 yards from the bank. 

“A collapse of the freeway would cost millions of dollars to repair, let alone the huge disruption it would cause for commuters and the flow of commerce," Miller said.

County officials have contacted an emergency contractor to stabilize the banks by reinforcing them with dirt excavated from an area away the erosion site and hundreds of boulders. The work could start this week, according to Miller's office.

anichols@detroitnews.com