Work has begun on a massive project to transport natural gas through two Mid-Michigan counties.

It involves replacing the existing pipeline as well as building several new sections. Consumers Energy is now working on the Saginaw Trail Pipeline. It's a $610 million project that is expected to last five years.

When complete, the pipeline will stretch from Tittabawassee Township in Saginaw County to south of Milford in Oakland County.

This year, crews will replace nearly 19 miles of pipeline between Saginaw and Flint.

Work on that phase is expected to wrap up before winter, so customers won't have their service interrupted.

Damien Wetzel, Consumers Energy project manager, said the current gas pipeline is due for an upgrade.

"We are replacing 78 miles of 12 and 16 inch steel gas transmission pipeline installed in the 1940s with 92 miles of 24 inch steel pipeline," Wetzel said.

Wetzel said each resident impacted by the construction was notified a year ago.

"On this segment it's 18 and a half miles of pipeline replacement and we executed over 270 property owner agreements trying to get ahead of it, explaining how the project would impact each customer and property owner," Wetzel said.

Bob Sapak has lived in Spaulding Township for 52 years. He said he remembers when the original pipeline was first placed.

"It was smaller at that time. They didn't have all the equipment that they do now. It took a little longer to do," Sapak said.

He said it doesn't bother him that they're doing the work.

"They contacted me last spring. I got letters and then they came over and talked to me about it. It's kind of interesting watching how they do everything," Sapak said.

Wetzel said they even have an environmental inspector on site every day to preserve as much of the land and wildlife as they can.

"Prior to construction we walked the entire right away and as we found turtle eggs or turtles and like that, we collected those eggs and we brought the new turtles out and put them back into the environment into the wetlands," Wetzel said.

The first phase will be finished in early November. Phase two is scheduled to begin in 2018.

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