Consumers Energy Completes 90-Mile Saginaw Trail Pipeline

By Jeff Awalt, Executive Editor

HOUSTON (P&GJ) — Consumers Energy said it has completed construction of its $610 million Saginaw Trail Pipeline project, which replaced aging natural gas pipelines and related infrastructure across three Michigan counties.

The Saginaw Trail project replaced 78 miles of a 1940s vintage natural gas pipeline with about 90 miles of new, larger pipeline. While most of the project followed the existing route through rural agricultural areas, a pipeline reroute was designed to avoid densely populated areas in Saginaw and Flint. In addition to replacing pipeline, crews also rebuilt city gate facilities where gas pressure is regulated for safe delivery to homes and businesses. 

Each phase of construction was completed without service interruptions for customers, the company said. While the pipeline is now operational, some additional final restoration work will occur in 2021. 

“The project was a huge undertaking and we are grateful for the cooperation and patience shown by affected landowners, community leaders, residents and other entities throughout construction," said Dennis Dobbs, vice president of enterprise project management for Consumers Energy.

"We also recognize the outstanding efforts of the hundreds of company and contractor skilled trades employees who worked through the challenge of COVID-19 to bring this project to successful fruition,” Dobbs said. 

Consumers Energy said it worked closely with officials from the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County and Kensington Metropark in Oakland County to ensure the project was constructed in an environmentally sensitive manner. 

The project involved:

• Relocating more than 100,000 turtles, frogs and snakes from the project area during construction.

A herpetologist on the project rescued two adult Blanding’s turtles and a nest of eggs from the pipeline route in 2018. The juvenile turtles were incubated over the winter released back into the wild as juveniles in the spring of 2019.

Planting a special pollinator mix of seeds to restore more than 550 acres of wild and wetlands areas where pipeline was buried to create new habitat for butterflies, bees and other pollinators.

Using a vehicle wash procedure in the Shiawassee Refuge to help prevent invasive species from being brought into the area on construction equipment.

Placing non-plastic, wildlife-friendly erosion control blankets when needed throughout the project.

Partnering with local landscape companies to recycle wood waste as mulch for lawns and gardens.

Consumers Energy is the primary business of Jackson, Mich.-based CMS Energy.  It operates more than 27,000 miles of natural gas distribution pipeline and 71,000 miles of electrical distribution lines in Michigan, serving 6.7 million customers.


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