County makes move on failing culvert

BENTON TOWNSHIP — A culvert that is deteriorating on Enterprise Way in Benton Township has forced Berrien County to make a move.

Berrien County Road Department and Drain Commissioner officials presented details of a proposed project to rebuild the culvert at a Benton Township board meeting Tuesday.

The project would include the removal of about 100 feet of road, curb and guardrail along Enterprise Way. After the excavation and removal of the existing 30-inch concrete culvert, workers would replace it with a 36-inch concrete culvert. 

Total costs of the project, which is being done by B&Z Company, is $400,000.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, Abonmarche Corey Kandow told trustees the existing culvert was in place before the road was replaced and the subdivision was added.

“My assumption is whoever used to own that land put a pipe across there, backfilled it with a bunch of garbage and rubbish. When they went to pave the road, they paved over what was there,” Kandow said. “Every time it rains now, running through that pipe, it’s causing all the soil around that to wash in and creating a sinkhole.”

Having run a camera through the pipe, Kandow said they discovered every pipe section was separated.

Drain Commissioner Chris Quattrin said the costs will be spread out 10 years as a supplemental benefit to the Woodridge Place Drain.

The cost of the $400,000 project will be assessed and broken down to 35 percent for Benton Township, 5 percent to the city of Benton Harbor, 30 percent to Berrien County and 30 percent to property owners.

Quattrin needed the township’s approval to move forward on the project because the costs of the repairs exceeded the annual spending limit set by the Michigan Drain Code of 1956.

On Tuesday, it was granted unanimously.

“The road is failing. It’s an impending failure,” Quattrin said. “I had the option to do an emergency order, but I wanted to partner with the township and involve the board.”

B&Z plans to start work on the project by next week, Quattrin said.

Quattrin said B&Z was granted the project instead of it going out to bid to cut down on time.

Because the asphalt season is coming to a close, Quattrin said putting the emergency project out to bid would have taken another 30 to 60 days.

“This is a substantial repair,” he said. “It needed to be addressed now and we’ve worked with them before.”

Jason Latham, managing director of the county road department, said the project should take four to five weeks.

“We want to get it done as soon as possible and before the (asphalt) plants close,” he said. “We kind of need to move now.”

The county will install a detour for some of the residents who live on Enterprise Way.

The detour will take drivers from M-63 to Benson Road, and then to Paw Paw Avenue before reconnecting to Enterprise.

The 100-foot stretch of Enterprise Way that will be shut down for the reconstruction project is between Sycamore Lane and Whispering Trail.

The Woodridge Place Drain is located both north and south of Enterprise Way in Benton Township. The road connects M-63 to Paw Paw Avenue and is adjacent to one of the township’s fire stations.

The drain was built by a developer for the Woodridge Place Subdivision to service the subdivision’s storm water using the Paw Paw River as an outlet.

The drain commissioner’s office took over jurisdiction of the drain in 2003. In 2013, an improvement project was done to improve some of the outlets that were deteriorating.

Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski