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Flint launches next phase of 'Fast Start' project, needs homeowners cooperation

steve carmody
Michigan Radio
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (at podium) holds a news conference with representatives of 3 companies involved in the next phase of Flint's 'Fast Start' pipe removal project

Contractors will soon start replacing lead service lines at more than 200 Flint homes.  But first they need the homeowners’ permission.

The city has hired three companies to fully or partially remove hundreds of service lines.  Representatives of those three companies (WT Stevens Construction Inc., Johnson & Wood Mechanical and Goyette Mechanical) will begin fanning out in specific neighborhoods targeted because their residents are particularly at risk from lead exposure. 

Mike McDaniel is Flint’s point man on the pipe removal project.  He says before the contractors can start digging, they’ll need to know where other utility lines are running on the properties. 

“But we can’t do that until we get the consent forms,” says McDaniel. “We’re not going to notify Miss Dig and say we’re digging here until we know where we’re going to start first.”

The city will also be capping some service lines to abandoned homes to avoid potential for future lead contamination.  

Improperly treated Flint River water damaged city pipes, which continue to leech lead into the city’s tap water.  The city's main focus is on the service lines that connect homes and businesses to city water mains.

Eventually, Mayor Karen Weaver wants to replace all the city’s lead and galvanized service lines.

This fall, Weaver wants to expand the service line replacement project to another 5,000 homes. Flint has $25 million dollars from the state to pay for replacing service lines. But the mayor says it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to complete the job. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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