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Posted: 06/18/14



PIPELINE CONCERNS. Seen above is signage on 36 Mile Road warning drivers of flaggers and construction as Enbridge Energy installs an oil pipeline along the road. Issues such as an accident involving a flagger and residents complaining of early start times have caused Bruce Township and Enbridge officials to discuss ways of keeping workers and residents safe.

(Observer photos by Chris Gray)

Accident highlights tension
during Enbridge project

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      An accident involving an Enbridge Energy worker is causing Bruce Township officials to try and curtail any other incidents.
       Enbridge has been working to install a portion of its 285-mile 6B pipeline along 36 Mile Road west of M-53, which calls for digging a 10-foot deep ditch that is 10 feet wide in order to bury the oil pipe.
       Supervisor Richard Cory said Macomb County Department of Road officials on site alerted him to motorists driving too fast in the construction zone. He said people have also threatened workers by harassing them and calling them names.
       In response, the county asked the Michigan State Police to patrol the area and write tickets.
       "You can't drive 55 MPH down there, you put people's lives in jeopardy," Cory said.
       Such concerns came to a head when a flagger was struck by a vehicle while working on the road on June 10, causing serious enough injuries to be transported to the hospital.
       Jennifer Smith, a spokeswoman for Enbridge, said the energy company is still gathering information about the incident and is cooperating with law enforcement.
       "It is a significant event, and of the utmost importance to us," she said. "We feel safety is important for our workers, but also drivers and anyone out near construction sites."
       Cory said to make sure emergency situations won't be a problem, Fire Chief Ken Staelgraeve inspected the construction and determined he could drive emergency vehicles on 36 Mile Road. Any future road closures would be passed along to the department.
       Problems have popped up from both sides of the construction barriers. Cory said he has received complaints of flaggers being rude to drivers, but conversely, has also heard the flaggers have been polite and helpful.
       He said if the rudeness continues, residents can report the flaggers with a name or description.
       "It's just frustrating for the people that live out there," he said.
       Smith said Enbridge has hired a local security company to be on site to maintain the safety of the contractors and employees.
      
Pipeline problems

       Start times have also caused headaches for residents. The township and Enbridge agreed to construction starting at 7 a.m., but complaints of noise like beeping vehicles have been heard prior to the start time.
       "They've got to tighten that up," Cory said. "We're just asking them to stick up to their end of the deal."
       Smith said the start times are being followed, but what residents are likely hearing is workers arriving early. She said due to safety protocols, they must back up their vehicles when parking them, causing the beeping noises.
       "Although they're beginning at 7 a.m., they (residents) might be hearing the vehicles and movements prior to," she said.
       The road was closed down to one lane on June 12 from M-53 to Hipp Road for an operation that would install a portion of the pipeline. Hipp Road was closed on June 7 for two hours due to a boring problem under the road, which Cory said shouldn't happen again.
       He compared the project to when M-53 was rebuilt from 34 Mile Road to Ebeling Road, asking residents for their patience.
       "It's just growing pains," he said. "There are a lot of workers, a lot of machinery and the county is out there -- you've got to be safe too, you don't want anyone to get hurt. Common sense should be the norm right now."
       On June 4, Cory warned residents that eastbound 36 Mile Road would be closed during construction during the day and reopened each night. A detour was posted to re-route drivers.
       Delays aren't the only thing drivers have dealt with on the road. Residents have reported receiving flat tires when driving on the road, which they claim was uncommon before the construction.
       Smith said they use a large magnet to try and remove as much of the metal as possible after working on the project.
       "That is an on-going process," she said. "We do appreciate the patience and cooperation of all communters that go through and all residents as well."
       Enbridge has agreed to save 12 trees along the road as well as replacing 150 trees, providing a $18,000 beautification grant for Bruce Township and restoring 36 Mile Road with limestone.
       Enbridge is laying the pipeline next to its existing 6B line. The old line will be deactivated, cleaned, filled with nitrogen and capped.


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