Roseville I-94 embankment repairs begin; work will straighten out drain, armor freeway sides

To fix the embankment that's been eroded dangerously close to the I-94 freeway in Roseville, crews will need to physically remove the drain underneath the interstate and straighten it out.

After years shifting water flows and heavy rains the drain and the surrounding embankment have become destabilized, threatening to collapse the highway if measures aren't taken to shore up the land.  

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller emergency repairs are needed before the rainy season picks up in the fall. 

"We're about 20 yards away from the interstate and erosion happens during very heavy rain," she said. "We need to get this thing fixed right now."

Miller estimates every time a heavy rain event moves through Macomb County, the embankment loses 4-8 feet of dirt. While the summer has shielded Southeast Michigan from severe weather that many of its residents have come to expect, more extreme storms are possible.

Over the next few weeks, a contractor will remove the drain from the embankment to straighten it out. The fix should prevent water from flowing on the side of the bank, further eroding it. Teams will also pack in more soil into the embankment. 

Miller said that when I-94 was built through Macomb County, construction crews used sand to fill in gaps in the embankment. Sand isn't the most stable soil, so further stabilization will be necessary. 

RELATED: I-94 erosion in Roseville threatening collapse of the highway

The highway embankment will then be armored with rip rap which are large rocks that will fit together like a puzzle. It's a necessary feature of protecting the surrounding land because of the force that flood waters have when they collide with the land.

Miller said it's akin to being blasted by a fire hose. 

The repairs are expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Funds won't be assessed on Roseville residents, which was a possibility when the project began. Instead, Miller said the county found extra money in "different pots" from the drain commission.