New sewer pipe pulled under Grand River

Alexander Sinn • Apr 11, 2019 at 9:00 AM

A massive, light-blue pipe slid slowly along Beechtree Street in Grand Haven on Wednesday before disappearing in a pit of mud. 

The 16-inch sewer pipe had by early afternoon embarked 1,000 feet — a quarter of the way — across the Grand River, marking progress in the Grand Haven/Spring Lake Sewer Authority’s infrastructure overhaul.

“The faster the better,” Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor David Krohn said.

The 4,000-foot line will replace a 12-inch pipe installed in 1973, an upgrade Krohn said will increase capacity for the sewer system. It’s a new endeavor for the local crew, he said, but it’s the specialty of the project contractors from Cheboygan, Wisconsin.

“For them, it’s an everyday job,” Krohn said. “For us, it’s a big deal.”

The pipe was held aloft by heavy equipment as it slid above the road near the intersection of Fulton Avenue, heading for the very end of Beechtree, where it dug into a specialized mixture of mud. The mud mix helps the pipe navigate a 50-foot-deep, 20-inch-wide hole beneath the river. Crews on the Spring Lake side, at Cutler Street, pulled it through the hole.

Each section of the pipe is hot-fused together before entering the mud, Krohn said. 

Work was expected to wrap up at around midnight Wednesday, the supervisor said.

Beechtree Street is currently closed from the northern dead-end to the corner of Columbus Avenue. The street is expected to be reopened by the end of the month.

Plans for the existing pipe are yet to be determined, Krohn said. It could remain under the river for backup, he said.

The drilling beneath the Grand River cost about $2.3 million toward a $13.4 million infrastructure project, which also entails a new headwork facility at the treatment plant on Grand Haven’s east side and upgraded pump stations that serve Spring Lake and Ferrysburg. The project is paid for through Ottawa County municipal bonds, with contributions from the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg, the Village of Spring Lake, and Grand Haven and Spring Lake townships.

The Grand Haven/Spring Lake Sewer Authority used about $500,000 of its cash reserves, while $2.5 million was granted to the project in December 2018 from the Michigan Legislature.

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