Jeff Yaroch State Representative

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Lawmakers flush out compromise on Fraser sinkhole repair money

LANSING — The state House of Representatives, the Senate and Gov. Rick Snyder dug themselves out of a big hole Tuesday when they found a tentative compromise on $3 million to send to Macomb County to help fix an enormous sinkhole in Fraser.

The issue got mired in a squabble between the House of Representatives, which wanted to send a $3 million grant to Macomb, and the Senate, which preferred a $5 million loan to help build a bypass around the sinkhole, which would ensure that raw sewage didn’t flow into the Clinton River.

Three weeks after the money was initially approved, a tentative compromise was found with the help of the Michigan Department of Transportation. The Legislature created the Priority Roads Investment Program in 2014 to pay for pet road projects and there was nearly $4 million left over in that fund. The $3 million for Macomb would come from there.

“There’s still a sinkhole, but we’re going to dig ourselves out of it,” said state Rep. Jeff Yaroch, R-Richmond. “So in a few weeks that money can be sent out to help with this project … At the end of the day we got to something that was agreeable to help Macomb County.”

The Legislature doesn’t have to vote on sending that money to Macomb, it will just be transferred by the Michigan Department of Transportation. But the original $3 million grant was also tied to $100 million in federal funds to replace water pipes in Flint. The Senate is expected to vote on stripping the $3 million out of that appropriation bill and approve the Flint money sometime this week.

“We’ll get it resolved,” said Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive.

The sinkhole on 15 Mile Road in Fraser happened on Christmas Eve, destroying three homes and forcing the evacuation of 23 more homes. The repairs are projected to be done in September.

Contact Kathleen Gray: 313-223-4430, or on Twitter @michpoligal

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