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Plans move forward for tunnel under Straits of Mackinac

Mark Brush
Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy is advancing plans for a bedrock tunnel for its Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. 

The Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority met in St. Ignace on Friday.

Before the meeting, Enbridge announced that Michigan-based Great Lakes Tunnel Constructors will build the tunnel. The firm is a partnership between Michigan-based Jay Dee Contractors and a Japanese construction company.

Mike Nystrom of the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority calls that decision “exciting.”

"We might get sidelined again. Who knows what happens in these court decisions? But for now, we're caught up, we're moving the thing forward, and that's a positive thing for all the citizens of the State of Michigan," Nystrom says.

The tunnel would house a replacement section of Enbridge’s 67-year-old Line 5 twin pipelines, which currently sit on the lake bottom.

The meeting was attended by union-affiliated supporters of the tunnel. Environmentalists and tribal officials were also there, and said they’re still opposed.

The Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, which is overseeing tunnel construction for the state, approved several documents submitted by Enbridge, including a 2,600-page report on the geology under the Straits. Enbridge’s Amber Pastoor manages the project.

“Enbridge is committed to building this tunnel, and we are absolutely 100% moving forward with it,” she said.

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

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Kaye is an alumnus of Michigan Tech's environmental engineering program. She got her start making maps for the Traverse City-Based water news organization Circle of Blue, and, since then, she's been pretty devoted to science communication and data visualization.
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