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Posted on Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Enbridge signs $1.3M deal to fix Washtenaw County roads damaged in pipeline construction

By Amy Biolchini


A layer of gravel covers a portion of Trinkle Road, a dirt road, between Dancer and Lima Center in Lima Township. The is one Washtenaw County road that recently required repair.

Joseph Tobianski |

The Washtenaw County Road Commission recently negotiated a $1.3 million agreement with Enbridge Pipelines Toledo Inc. for road repairs after the company’s construction schedule for its new crude oil pipeline ran into seasonal weight restrictions on county roads.

The deal exempts Enbridge from adhering to seasonal weight restrictions by binding the company to fund the repair and reconstruction of the roads it is using -- the majority of which are in Lyndon Township in the northwest corner of Washtenaw County.

Construction of the new, $190 million Line 79 began in September. It runs parallel to an existing Enbridge crude oil pipe - Line 17. The company says the new pipeline is necessary to double the amount of crude oil it is carrying to the Marathon Petroleum Corporation's refinery in Detroit and the BP-Husky Refinery in Toledo.

The new pipeline will be operational as of April 1, said Jason Manshum, spokesman for Enbridge.

Enbridge began building the new line in Freedom Township near the Freedom junction, and moved northward towards the Stockbridge junction in Ingham County. The company's staging grounds for its work crews are on the west side of U.S. 23 just south of the exit for Whitmore Lake on the northern Washtenaw County line.

By the end of February, when the road commission implemented its seasonal weight restrictions on all its roads, Enbridge still had a considerable amount of construction left to do in Lyndon Township, said Roy Townsend, managing director of the road commission.

Under those weight restrictions, construction of Enbridge’s pipeline would have been halted altogether.

In the interest of sticking to its construction schedule, Townsend said Enbridge pursued the agreement that came to a total of $1.3 million -- $200,000 of which is a security deposit that likely will be paid back to the company.

“For them, it was a business decision,” Townsend said, noting the county has never negotiated an agreement like this before with a company.

The costs included in the agreement were compiled under the assumption that Enbridge would damage the gravel roads to the point they would need to be completely rebuilt, said Ken Schwartz, member of the road commission’s board of trustees.

“We have similar agreements across the U.S.,” Manshum said, explaining that the company works with local municipalities to repair roads. “Due to either higher traffic volumes or heavy equipment, we will work with a road commission to compensate or repair the roads, much like when we’re on a certain parcel or property.”

For about 10.6 miles of gravel roads in Lyndon Township that will be heavily used by Enbridge during its pipeline construction in March, Enbridge will pay the road commission $60,000 per mile for reconstruction with a $100,000 security deposit.

Those roads are:

  • Boyce Road between M-52 and Joslin Lake Road
  • Embury Road from North Territorial Road to Joslin Lake Road
  • Farnsworth Road from the Jackson County line to Boyce Road
  • Joslin Lake Road from the right-of-way crossing to North Territorial Road
  • Roepke Road from Bowdish Road to Boyce Road

Fourteen gravel roads totaling 25.8 miles will incur light use by Enbridge crews, for which the company will pay the road commission about $1,000 per mile. Enbridge also will pay the county $20,000 per mile for 24.6 miles of 10 paved roads in the county, with an additional $100,000 security deposit for the use of the roads.

Those roads are:

  • Baker Road between Jackson Road and the eastbound ramp to I-94
  • Dexter-Chelsea Road from the railroad crossing to Dancer Road
  • Fairway Drive from Stofer Road to Hayrake Hollow Road
  • Hakyrake Hollow Road from Riker Road to the right-of-way crossing
  • Island Lake Road from Lima Center Road to Dexter-Townhall
  • Jackson Road from Fletcher Road to Baker Road
  • North Territorial Road from M-52 to Madden Road
  • Pleasant Lake Road from M-52 to Schneider Road
  • Scio Church Road from M-52 to Guenther Road
  • Stofer Road from North Territorial Road to the right-of-way crossing

Reconstruction of the gravel roads will occur in the summer, though they will be patched before then, Townsend said. Per the agreement signed between Enbridge and the road commission, the road commission has six months after Enbridge has finished construction to fix the roadways.

Following construction, Enbridge will return only to the area to inspect both the new Line 79 and existing Line 17.

Enbridge follows federal regulations for inspecting all its pipelines, Manshum said.

Near what the industry calls “high-consequence areas,” like bodies of water, pipelines are inspected every five years using a computer that’s driven through the pipe and fully scans for cracks, dents and corrosion, Manshum said.

To do that kind of inspection, the computer device would have to be driven through the entire line, Manshum said.

An external, physical patrol of the line to check for potential hazards either by foot or by airplane is required 26 times per year.

“We do that primarily by aircraft patrols,” Manshum said. “We also do that by foot and vehicle, and often times we exceed that.”

Pressure in all of Enbridge’s pipelines is monitored around-the-clock by a computerized control system that is able to immediately shut down the pipeline if there is an issue, Manshum said.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 1:42 a.m.

So, Washtenaw Co Road Commission, how about the damage done to Saline Township gravel roads by Paxton Oil? Do they get a free pass or do we have to vote even more local money to fix their mess?


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:27 p.m.

Lyndon Township is in the northwestern part of Washtenaw County, not the northeastern part as stated in the article.

Amy Biolchini

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

Apologies for the error. It's been fixed.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:04 p.m.

Enbridge -- steps up to the plate and works on the problem. Pall -- now that's a completely different story.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 2:18 p.m.

funny how enbridge "inspections" and "round the clock" monitoring couldn't stop a million gallons of oil from gushing into the K-zoo river. Id be weary of anything theses hacks say....their record speaks for itself.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

We live very close to one of the sites of this "construction". We live out in the country and have watched with horror & dismay at the damage this pipeline has done to our neighborhood & close-by sites... thousands of trees chopped down, acres of farmland dug up, wetlands disturbed by huge monster equipment & human activity 6 & 7 days a week. Many times we can't even use our roads because they are blocked by heavy equipment or so rutted that the road is impassable. The flagmen seem to delight in holding up as many local residents for as long a time as they can. In case you haven't seen any of this construction, the pipeline area is a swath as wide as a two-lane road. It is a terrible blight on our county, and 1.3 million is a low figure to fix the roads. The cost of repairing the rest of the mess Enbridge has made is not calculable.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

Unfortunately, I think only those who make no use of crude oil's products have a right to complain. Otherwise, we have to recognize that our gas powered cars need to get gas from SOMEWHERE...


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

So, are they going to reconstruct the wetlands? Replant trees? Replace damaged land? This is just as bad as fracking. I heard that in some cases if you frack? You can crack a pipeline to gas or even this, oil. Heaven forbid a fracking company comes into play here. Kind of scary what we are doing to the earth.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

Everybody keep a copy of this article and the roads listed. When the roads need "drastic repair" and the call rises again to pay more in taxes, keep this in mind as well as when it comes time to elect Road Commissioners. 1.3 M is nothing for road repair. Even for gravel roads. Worse are the paved roads that will be compromised that will only be subsidized at $20K per mile. Those main roads: Jackson, Baker, Island Lake, Dexter-Chelsea, and so on. The company should have been forced to buy a substantial surety bond AND restore the roads. We're in the middle of freeze-thaw--what do you think is going to happen? You mean to tell me that Enbridge--a Canadian company--couldn't plan ahead for this? This is the problem of the overweight trucks. The newspapers and MDOT always say that more axles distributes the load better and so it's not a problem. That may be for I94 and US23, but eventually, all of these trucks take the offramp. None of these roads are built or paved for that kind of loading. They end up rutted so deeply, it affects your turning. Further, while the point weight at each axle may be distributed, the total weight of the vehicle will still be born by the road over the area under the truck. The roads feel that areal strain over that area and it does impact by warping the pavement. See Mr. Ranzini's comments regarding flexing. It's the same as if you put a large weight on top of a cake. If it's all in one point, it bores through, but if it is spread out, it compresses some spots, puts tension on others and cracks develop at spots well away from the load bearing point.

Amy Biolchini

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

There are three members on the county's Board of Road Commissioners. All of them are appointed to their posts by the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. There is no election for the Road Commission board.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:32 a.m.

Please let me know when the election of Road Commissioners will be held.

Basic Bob

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

There are many paved roads in the county turning into rubble that see little or no truck traffic (two by my house less than twenty years old). Should we also charge the overweight pickup trucks and suburban assault vehicles?

average joe

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

I been told by WCRC engineers that to rebuild the paved road I live on would cost $2.5 million per mile. Granted, it would include drainage work and other work that wouldn't apply to what the Enbridge contract might include, but when you compare the two amounts, the $20,000 per paved mile figure seems low.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

Kudos to the Enbridge company for stepping up and acting in an ethical manner. Kudos to the Washtenaw County Road Commission for their part. Heavy construction damages the roads involved. One of the reasons why so many arterial roads in Ann Arbor are in such bad shape is that the heavy loads of concrete and steel brought in to construct the many tall downtown buildings and in some cases the heavy loads of dirt removed from the foundations of the sites, are damaging our roads. As a pedestrian walking downtown I've witnessed first hand the roads severely flexing as these heavily loaded trucks go by and noticed the huge grooves in some roads caused by heavy weights travelling over them. I wonder how many of those heavy trucks violate the road weight limit or seasonal road restrictions in Ann Arbor? Perhaps if the city of Ann Arbor was more vigilant in proactively policing these trucks and their true load weights, we'd get some of our own roads rebuilt, on some other company's dime?

average joe

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

"....stepping up and acting in an ethical manner." Not really- Consider the alternative. Those tickets & fines by the county 'weighmaster' could run into five figures($) per truck/violation. Or they could haul smaller loads, if possible. This was only done to save Enbridge money, in fines and/or time. It wasn't at all to be a responsible company in that respect.

Basic Bob

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

@SEC Fan, What a bitter distortion of the turn of events. The Road Commission had never even thought of an agreement of this nature. Despite the fact that similar arrangements are made with local authorities all over the country. They should not be congratulated for accepting money from Enbridge. Had the project not run into the seasonal weight restrictions, there would have been only normal wear, no significant damage, and no need to repair the roads. But their crystal ball was acting up a little and stuff happened. This is a great alternative plan, no matter what you think of the company.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

Agreed. Unlike BP who tried to cover it up. Just a thought here. But are Canadians more forward in owning up to an oil spill then Britons? Just a thought here. Because Enbridge did not try to cover it up. BP did and got caught doing so. How is the Gulf doing by the way?


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

You call that ethics. I call that being responsible. They are not mutually exclusive.

Reverend Bubba X

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

There is nothing ethical about exceeding the frost law weight limits. The roads will be damaged and will not be repaired until well after the weather improves. Citizens will be inconvenienced and their vehicles will be subject to increased wear, tear, and damage for which Enbridge will not compensate them. The costs Enbridge has agreed to pay are quite low, as well. This is simply a business descision Enbridge has made to keep their project on schedule. Since the schedule apparently did not account for the frost laws, it is fair to question Enbridge's planning process.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Oh, and kudos to the road commission! Great job and great solution to the problem.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Maybe we read different articles. There was no "ethics" involved. It was a simple business decision. In order to meet their construction timing, they agreed to repair the roads...otherwise, they would have to adhere to the seasonal weight limits, thereby increasing their costs (more truckloads) and extending their schedule. had nothing to do with ethics. Ethics would have been their offering to repair the roads when the project first started (and they didn't know they'd run into the seasonal weight restrictions.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

@dancinginmysoul: I believe that County Road Commissions can set weight limits on county roads, the state sets road limits on trunk line roads, and cities set weight limits on their own roads. Each party is responsible for enforcing their own weight limits on roads within their jurisdiction. So the answer to your first question is, that the city of Ann Arbor is responsible for enforcing road weight limits or seasonal weight limits on roads within the city of Ann Arbor.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

@dancingInmysoul: I'm just saying *in this case* Enbridge is stepping up to the plate and acting ethically. A dishonest firm would go ahead and do the damage and say "sue me" and three to seven years later after all the appeals are exhausted, the county would finally recover the money and in the meantime, we would not have the money to properly repair these roads because the Washtenaw County Road Commission is already strapped for funds to keep the roads in proper repair. I've run up against some firms like that in my career, even some really big household name firms act that way, and while it was satisfying to ultimately get justice (and I have), a lot of lives can be damaged in the meantime by their lack of ethics and lawyering!

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Interesting point regarding Ann Arbor roads... With all the proposed construction to downtown Ann Arbor, why the road diets for the closest roads for construction transport(N.Main and Jackson) from the highways? And who will repair and pay for the damage from these huge trucks?


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : noon

Just because Enbridge is going to pay for damages it creates does not mean they are acting ethically. In fact, I'm not really sure where ethics plays a part in this. They will be hauling loads of excessive weight, thus leading to the damages already described. It's their responsibility because they've created it. Is it the reaponsiblity of the city of Ann Arbor to enforce weight limits, or the state? How about the money the residents of Michigan pay in ridiculous vehicle registration and tag fees, and taxes? That would be a good start instead of trying to find "some other companies dime."


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

A dirty business. Last week the EPA ordered Canadian company Enbridge to dredge the Kalamazoo River. The company had already spent $820M removing over a million gallons of spilled oil. They mus now dig out the remanining oil-embedded muck caused by their pipeline burst near Marshall in 2010. Over 1 million gallons of gushing crude polluted nearly 40 miles of the river. Enbridge also had to pay a $4M federal fine. The oil lost was worth about $2M on the market. What's another $1.3M? The consumer will pay.