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Enbridge can soon receive bids from contractors to build Great Lakes Tunnel

At Enbridge's information center in St. Ignace, a mural depicts the inside of the Great Lakes Tunnel.
Patrick Shea
Interlochen Public Radio
At Enbridge's information center in St. Ignace, a mural depicts the inside of the Great Lakes Tunnel.

At a meeting in Lansing on Wednesday, the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA) approved Enbridge’s Request for Proposals. This document starts the bidding process for contractors looking to build the Great Lakes Tunnel.

The MSCA is tasked with overseeing the construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel, which would encase a new section of the Line 5 pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The tunnel would run about 100 feet beneath the lakebed. It’s said to be a $500 million dollar construction project that could also house third-party utilities like fiber-optic cables.

Jeremy Garza gave public comment on behalf of the Michigan Pipe Trades Association.

“This project will provide a stimulus to the economy in a rural area,” Garza said. “We are highly trained individuals and are prepared to work on this project.”

Also approved at Wednesday’s meeting was a tribal consultation policy.

This requires the corridor authority to seek input from Michigan’s 12 federally recognized tribes on all future decisions about the tunnel project.

Bay Mills Indian Community has been calling for a consultation policy since last May, pointing to the impact the project could have on treaty resources.

“It’s coming well too late in the process,” said president Whitney Gravelle. “The Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority has been meeting for almost two years now, and during that time there have been no tribal voices involved in their decision making process.”

Enbridge says the Request for Proposals will go out to contractors in the next few weeks.

Patrick Shea was a natural resources reporter at Interlochen Public Radio. Before joining IPR, he worked a variety of jobs in conservation, forestry, prescribed fire and trail work. He earned a degree in natural resources from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, and his interest in reporting grew as he studied environmental journalism at the University of Montana's graduate school.