The Chelsea Rest Area
Question Corner: January 2020
by Tim Athan
From the January, 2020 issue
Q. I drive to work to Jackson from Ann Arbor every day. The rest area in Chelsea has been closed for several months now. Does anyone know why?
A. This rest area's septic field is not draining properly and needs to be replaced. MDOT constructed this rest area, and drain field, in 2005-2006. An MDOT representative emails that while they "don't know the exact cause of failure for sure, we believe it was a combination of things. There were a couple of design elements that probably contributed, including using a geotextile blanket that was approved at that time but is much thicker than current standards now dictate. Also, the original design called for a larger dose volume [of effluent pumped to the drain field] than current design suggestions recommend. We think the soil mound over the field may have been sub-standard material and/or too compacted as it was 'hard as concrete' according to one of our MDOT maintenance crew who was doing some investigative digging for us after the failure. They also discovered broken pipe into/at the field that would have caused issues with proper effluent distribution and contributed to pump malfunctions."
The septic field can't be replaced until the ground dries, so the rest area is likely to remain closed until early next summer.
Got a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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