Emergency construction expected to finish by mid-week

REED CITY — Emergency construction is taking place on Chestnut Street in Reed City following the collapse of an aging city sewer main.

According to Reed City Manager Ron Howell, the break took place on April 14. Before the collapse was discovered, crews attempted to penetrate what they thought was a blocked line with a rodder and a water jetter without success.

The main carries sewage from numerous points in the city and from the area where Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital and McDonald's are located to the waste water treatment plant. The collapse is located from Pompeii's to the corner of Chestnut and Upton Avenue.

"This is the main highway for sewage, right here," said Department of Public Works Operator Gerry Pontz at the construction site on April 18.

Emergency action was called by a quorum of city council members who met on Friday in compliance with the Open Meetings Act. After being apprised of the situation, members approved a $65,000 replacement plan and construction by workers from Pete's Contracting began that day.

"We were very fortunate, because the city had $92,000 reserved in the sewer fund which was going to carry over into the new budget," Howell said. "This also happened during a time when our DPW superintendent (Rich Rehkopf) was on vacation, literally on a boat on Lake St. Clair. Our operator stepped up as foreman and went right into action."

Pontz and Howell said Rehkopf helped coordinate the process between city employees and the construction team, and also credited the city council members for taking quick, necessary action, and members of the Reed City Police Department for assisting in making sure traffic was smoothly rerouted.

"It was everyone coming together that made it possible," Pontz said. "Construction is going really well and we work well with the guys from Pete's Contracting."

Construction is expected to finish mid-week, Howell said. No sewage had leaked above ground and none of the area businesses or residents appear to have been affected by the line's collapse, he added. Once work is complete, the top of the roadway will be layered with gravel until it can be paved later this spring, Pontz said.

Until work is complete, the area at Chestnut Street and Upton Avenue is closed and traffic is being rerouted.