Erosion around a lakefront roadway is threatening the integrity of water main lines located beneath it.
The half-mile stretch of Beach Street directly in front of Muskegon's water filtration plant is shut down every year around New Year's Day. But because of the high lake levels this season, the city decided to shut it down early in October.
“It's an iconic beach and it's a beautiful tourist spot that's not going to be the same for awhile,” said Leo Evans, director of Muskegon's Department of Public Works.
The city has seen the road be washed out before, this time they are worried about what lies beneath it: several water mains. The lines are owned by the West Michigan Regional Water Authority, which consists of Norton Shores and Fruitport Township. The City of Muskegon operates the lines.
Evans says they don't feel the lines are in imminent danger, but they will remain under close supervision. "We’re going to continue to monitor it. If not daily, multiple times a week," he said.
The real danger would be if the earth immediately around the lines begins disappearing. If that happens, the structural integrity of the lines could be in jeopardy. Of that possibility Evans said, "Certainly it's not something we want to have to get in to, but there are redundancies in place to help if that happens."
Evans also tells FOX 17 that the city has begun making long-term plans to address erosion in the area.
"Right now we're just kind of dealing with it short term day-to-day but in the background we’ve also started on some engineering work for some long-term solutions. We’ve contracted with some people who have some expertise dealing with this kind of stuff," he said Monday.