You can find them on streets across Huntsville. A manhole cover is paved over, and when city workers clean the asphalt off the top to gain access, they leave a deep hole. Some of the recessed manhole covers are four inches deep or more. “When you are driving and hit one of these, it jerks your steering column pretty good,” says Huntsville driver Ken Hovanes.
He’s talking about the effect the uncovered manholes he describes as street divots, have on small vehicles. “It’s something you have to be aware of, and it can cause a minor fender bender, or it could cause somebody on a bicycle to crash,” says Hovanes. In fact you can find one of the deeper examples of a recessed manhole cover on Hastings Street just to the east of Drake Avenue. It’s right in the middle of one of Huntsville busiest bike routes.
“If you’re not anticipating it, if you’re not ready, it can cause you to flip over pretty hard and pretty fast,” says Ken Hovanes. Some roads of course busier than others with bikes. Some roads also with more rough manholes than others. On Clinton Avenue there’s a stretch where the manholes feel a lot like deep potholes to drivers.
For cars the recessed manholes make a ride rougher than it ought to be, and for cyclists they can make the road downright dangerous. “I like to see roads to be smooth, and safe. I think everyone wants to see that, especially the kids,” says Ken Hovanes.
We’re taking action and making sure city officials are aware of the problem, and the bad things that can happen because of these “uncovered” manholes.