Progress made on Fraser sinkhole as new Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller talks changes

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jan 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 05:11:25-05

It is day nine of the sinkhole in Fraser and progress is being made.

But there are also major questions surronding what could be a $100 million repair bill.

We are told the collapse happened 60 feet under ground. The sewer main that collapsed is 11 feet in diameter.

To relieve pressure and the flow of sewage, it took them three tries but they’ve now installed a pump that is reducing the flow through the damaged section.

Still, the worst may not be over.

Crews have been working around the clock to install the bypass around the collapsed section, to clear the main completely, and then get down for an inspection.

Another major concern is that the sewage of 300,000 residents in 11 Macomb County communities flows through this main. 

They are being asked to cutback on water usage.

Any major rain or snow could force them to pump sewage out of the main and into the Harrington Drain - which is more like a creek  - that flows to the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.

It could take 10 months and $100 million to fix this.

The governor could soon visit this site and declare it an emergency, which then means state and/or federal aid.

This is the second day on the job for Candice Miller the new Public Works Commissioner.

Her primary focus is getting the sinkhole fixed. She’s also cleaning house for several reasons.

It is still not known if there were proper maintenance and inspections that could have prevented this sewer main collapse on Christmas Eve.

The same main collapsed twice before in different sections, in 2004 and in the late 1970s.

Miller is bringing in forensic financial auditors to look at the books.

The Department of Public Works was operated for 24 years by Anthony Marrocco, who Miller beat in the November election.

She’s used the front revolving door and replaced four administrative employees so far, out of 50 total employees.

Dino Bucci is one of her employees, who is facing a civil lawsuit. He also serves as a Macomb Township Trustee.

A contractor seeking refunds of permit fees alleges Bucci told him they would be paid - only if Bucci got a $75,000 kickback.

The house cleaning also means moving a table out from her office. Miller says it was used by Tony Marrocco to keep his political war chest flush with cash.

Big picture, she also wants to get rid of several rooms full of paper files. 

When she was Secretary of State, she moved those offices and records into the digital and online age.

There’s one other change she’s making right the middle of the front lobby: a manhole cover custom made with the name of the previous commissioner is embedded into the floor.

It will be removed. For now it is being covered with a rug miller bought while in congress and visiting US troops overseas.

The feds continue their investigation into Macomb County pay for play politics, bribes, and kickbacks.

There is a lot of speculation, but it is not known if Bucci or Marrocco will be charged.