Enbridge Energy will drill for rock and soil samples from a barge in the Straits of Mackinac this week. The company obtained a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the rock and soil sampling. The geotechnical work is part of the scope of work allowed through a permit issued in January, a spokesman for the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said.
By moving its previously land-based boring operation onto the actual waterway, Enbridge said, “preserves the schedule to complete the tunnel at the earliest possible date,” which is expected to be five years from now in 2024. Enbridge said on Monday that it received written affirmation from the state last week that allowed it to continue collecting geotechnical samples.
The company plans to spend $40 million this year on the beginning phases of its $500 million utility corridor project, and the geotechnical work is part of its beginning phase. Drilling and sampling will begin from a small barge this week just west of the Mackinac Bridge and a larger, specialized barge will drill in the deepest sections of the passage later in July, Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy said.
The geotechnical work “will gather information to inform the detailed engineering and permit application efforts that are part of advancing our commitment to the tunnel that will house a replacement pipeline for Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac,” the company said in a statement.