The Paint Creek Trail will be shaking Thursday night! This is not a test, nor is it an earthquake.
It's a geophysical survey of the bedrock 45,000 feet below the trail, using a vibrating disc attached to a 12,000-pound piece of equipment.
The goal of the survey is to create a map of the rock below the trail using two-dimensional sonar imagery.
Residents living along the trail will not feel any vibrations or have their homes shake—the vibrations can only be felt a few feet away from the disc according to West Bay Geophysical Director of Operations Jim Bowser.
"We'll be out on the trail at night with lights; nearby residents will hear the industrial engine and most likely the humming of the vibrator," Bowser said.
West Bay is going door-to-door to inform residents living along the trail of the survey and reduce any alarm it would cause.
Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Commissioner Joeseph Peruzzi was concerned about the short notice given to the residents.
Peruzzi was the only commissioner to vote no on a motion created by Vice Chairperson Alice Tomboulian to give the Parks and Recreation Commission's OK to use the bridges.
There were two stipulations agreed upon with Bowser:
- The vibrating disc would not come within 100 feet of any bridge on the trail.
- Bridge #33.7 would not be crossed by the machinery due to fear of existing erosion issues.
The commissioners collectively agreed 100 feet was a safe distance to stay away from the bridges to prevent any further erosion.
"We very much care about our residents and what happens here. We just needed to know what was going on and to make sure you will be cautious here," Commissioner Dirk Mammen said.
Bowser will be escorting the West Bay crew tonight during the survey to ensure these stipulations are followed and stationing employees in front of and behind the machinery to be careful of any late-night trail users.
The Paint Creek Trailways Commission previously authorized the survey, pending written OK to cross the bridges from the parks and recreation commissions in Rochester Hills and Oakland Township.
How it works
Sensors will be placed along the trail at 8 1/2-foot intervals to capture the sonar readings to create the most accurate map possible.
"We're looking for a 'Trenton structure,' which is limestone with dolomitization, or pores in it that allow for oil to get trapped inside," Bowser said.
The Paint Creek Trail marks the eastern edge of the map West Bay is creating, and the possibility of any oil or natural gas being drilled from the area is unlikely.