Ripley sewer project to start next week

RIPLEY – The process to get a sewer system constructed in Ripley began about two years ago, and on Oct. 9 construction will begin, according to Glenn Ekdahl.

Ekdahl, who is Franklin Township supervisor, said the Ripley project will involve placing of 15,000 feet of gravity-feed sewer pipe, which will connect to a lift station east of the former Quincy Smelter site. The sewage will be pumped to a force main under the Portage Lake Shipping Canal and then to the Portage Lake Water and Sewer Authority treatment facility in Houghton.

The project was awarded to Bill Siler Contracting of South Range, whose original bid was $2.7 million, which Ekdahl said was too high, so an adjustment was made in the project. Six residences on Pewabic Road were removed from the plan.

“We’re hoping to do those later with contingency funds or if future funds are available,” he said.

With those houses removed from the plan, Ekdahl said Siler’s bid was lowered to $2,254,110.

About 120 houses in Ripley will be connected to the sewer system, Ekdahl said. Most of them have either aging septic systems or cesspools.

“We’re not sure where they go,” he said.

Ekdahl said the project will be funded by a $1.4 million Rural Development grant and a $2.23 million loan at 2.25 percent for 40 years. The $3.6 million total cost will include refinancing of $622,000 of 2009 and 2010 sewer project for communities on Quincy Hill at the same 2.25 percent.

The loan money is supposed to be used first for the project, then the grant money, if needed, Ekdahl said.

Siler is supposed to start work Oct. 9. Initially he will construct six crossings under M-26, and construct a lift station near the Houghton County Road Commission property on M-26. He is expected to be finished with that first phase by the middle of November. Next construction season, he will work on connecting the houses and a few businesses on M-26.

Ekdahl said Siler is starting late in the construction season because the Michigan Department of Transportation has plans for next construction season, and the sewer lines need to be in the ground before that.

“Next summer, MDOT is going to be realigning M-26 in Ripley,” he said.

Ekdahl said there will be a meeting next spring to inform residents about the project, which took a lot of work to get going.

“It was a long struggle,” he said.