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Flint making steady progress toward 2020 pipe replacement goal

Flint Mayor Karen weaver and a string of people standing to her right.

With more than 6,200 lead and galvanized service lines replaced since its water crisis was exposed, Flint officials say they are on track to meet their overall goal by 2020.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said contractors have also made good progress inspecting homes where the type of service line was unknown.

“This is a significant accomplishment and it actually puts us ahead of schedule,” Weaver said.

So far, ret. Brigadier General Mike McDaniel has been the coordinator of Flint’s “Fast Start” program aimed at replacing service lines. At a Tuesday press conference, McDaniel said contractors have helped to replace more than 5,565 service lines in 2017, with a few hundred more homes scheduled for service line replacement by year’s end, if the weather cooperates.

Flint agreed to replace 18,000 lead or galvanized service lines by 2020 in an “unprecedented” court settlement, where the state of Michigan agreed to fund the initiative with an $87 million minimum commitment. Congress and the EPA chipped in too, awarding $100 million to help Flint recover from its water crisis.  

Flint seems to be on track to reach that goal, as long as they replace 6,000 water service lines each of the next two years.

Flint Public Works director Rob Bincsik will be taking over as coordinator of the Fast Start program. For months, McDaniel has been planning to eventually step down from the role and return to his full-time job. Weaver awarded McDaniel and local contractors certificates of appreciation for their work with the program.

Bincsik says the multinational engineering company AECOM will take over the majority of the service line replacement work over the next two years.

“They’re going to provide us really with the capacity we need to kinda stand-up our capital improvement program, and move the city of Flint forward,” Bincsik said.

AECOM has also submitted a proposal to take over the “restoration” phase of the work, maintaining streets and infrastructure disrupted by service line replacement, which Bincsik says has been a sore spot for residents. 

Tyler Scott is the weekend afternoon host at Michigan Public, though you can often hear him filling in at other times during the week. Tyler started in radio at age 18, as a board operator at WMLM 1520AM in Alma, Michigan, where he later became host of The Morning Show.