Aging infrastructure a growing headache for city - WNEM TV 5

Aging infrastructure a growing headache for city

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Bill Bohlen knows all about the aging network of pipes beneath his city.  As director of public works, he says many of the water pipes need to be fixed or replaced. 

"That's one thing that we're not short of is aged infrastructure in Bay City," Bohlen said.

Bohlen said his department is working on finding ways to fix the problem.

"There are spots where it slowly but surely starting to fail. And we're working diligently to identify this in a 20-year Capital Improvement Program," Bohlen said.

Bohlen is using the data plotted on a map to target the most prone areas, trying to prevent scenes like this mishap at Midland and Raymond Streets on Tuesday.

Joyce Chatman lives down the street from where it happened.

"That was very much an inconvenience, went over a snow bank," Chatman said.

In that case, it wasn't a break. Instead, an old connection to the water line failed which spewed water everywhere. Chatman doesn't care what caused the issue. She just wants it addressed.

"I don't know. But they need to do something," Chatman said.

For its part, the city plans to spend $20 million to $30 million over the next 20 years. But folks like Dick Holka wonder if that will be enough.

"People can't afford taxes. And that would have to be an increase to support the better lines. But we might have to put up with it for a few years," Holka said.

While the city is trying to come up with ways to fund new infrastructure, it's getting some help from the weather. This winter has been warmer than usual.

"We deserve a break this year, that's what I'm hoping for and the temperatures stay up more to normal instead of that sub-freezing area," Bohlen said.

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