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State board appoints new Line 5 tunnel contractor, promises more public data

Mackinac Bridge
Michael Livingston
/
Michigan Public Radio Network
The Mackinac Bridge.

A state board that oversees the Line 5 tunnel has selected a new contractor to independently review the project.

Oklahoma-based engineer, Craig Brownlee will now serve as the pipeline advisor for the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority. He is replacing the firm HT Engineering, which pulled out of the project due to a new conflict of interest.

Some public comments at the MSCA June 14 meeting questioned the new contractor's credentials and lack of experience working with tunnels.

In response, MSCA chair Paul Novak said Brownlee would only advise the state on the new four-mile section of Line 5, and the state has a separate contract with a firm to oversee the potential tunnel construction.

"We have an IQA (indepedent quality assurance) contractor who we have also retained who has much greater expertise in the tunnel," Novak said.

Matthew Borke is an appellate contesting the Michigan Public Service Commission permit for the tunnel and spoke at the meeting, addressing a lack of transparency on tunnel data.

"The information that's provided through the studies thus far is best referred to as PR material, public relations meant specifically to get a job done, and nothing other than that," Borke said. "The citizens would like to see information on all these tests Enbridge is doing, the boring samples, the real data."

Following the public comment portion, Novak also promised to make technical data from Enbridge more publicly available.

With exception to releasing one additional document locked under an attorney-client privilege exemption, the MSCA also denied WCMU's FOIA appeal during the June 14 meeting.

The next MSCA meeting is scheduled for Oct. 18.

Editor's note: Enbridge is a sponsor of WCMU. We report on them as we do with any other business.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.
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