On an unseasonably warm day in late March, the woman woke to irregular, intrusive sounds, far louder than the clock radio set for an hour later. The house on S. Forest began to shake. She held her husband close. “Are we living on a fault line?” she cried.
Outside, men in hard hats were tearing up the street, digging nineteen feet down to install a conduit for a new, three-mile-long power line.
Ann Arbor’s electric system was built more than a century ago. DTE added substations and circuits over the years, resulting in a web of power lines tying substations to one another. A problem in a line or equipment in one area can disrupt service ten miles away. With the proliferation of businesses and housing in Ann Arbor, the problem could only get worse. DTE had to do something.
A new underground line will connect a new substation at State St. north of Eisenhower to a substation in Pittsfield Township. The city is replacing sanitary and storm sewers, too.
By mid-April, the conduit was in place on Forest–to the relief of residents who had parked on side streets to avoid dealing with limited-access driveways and who had to move garbage cans half a block for pickup. But the routines resumed only temporarily: in early May, it’s the city’s turn to dig up that street. Final restoration of S. Forest will occur after the city’s sanitary sewer project is completed.