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Documents reveal proposed Line 5 tunnel could take longer than expected

A 2012 video showed a person inspecting the pipeline, which runs under the Straits of Mackinaw.

Newly released information reveals building a proposed tunnel to cover a portion of Enbridge Energy's Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac could take longer than expected.

Estimates had set the completion date for Enbridge Energy’s “Great Lakes Tunnel” for some time in 2024.But newly shared documents show that’s when the company wants to start construction on the project to house a replacement section of its Line 5 pipeline.

The document release comes after a lawsuit from the National Wildlife Federation. Mike Shriberg is that group’s Great Lakes Regional Director.

"They said they would finish by 2024. Now they’re saying that’s the earliest start date. It tells us that this Great Lakes Tunnel—it may never happen. And even if it does happen, it’s not going to happen on a time scale that’s responsive to the threat that Line 5 poses to the Great Lakes right now."

Enbridge estimates it would take around four years to complete the project once construction gets underway—meaning it likely wouldn’t finish until 2028 at the earliest.

Shriberg says he supports the state’s legal battle to shut down Line 5 altogether.

“You’d still be shipping by a pipeline which is the safest method for shipping. I don’t think anyone disputes that mile for mile. It’s just that Line 5 is an extraordinarily dangerous pipeline and it’s not one that’s needed within this network.”

Enbridge says it remains dedicated to “sustained and safe operation” of the 68-year-old pipeline, and that issues with permitting have continued to cause delays with the tunnel's timeline.

Editor's note: Enbridge Energy is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.

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