Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, September 15, 2019 ACHD's Road Wizard

Uncovered trailers and trucks carrying loads; why are manhole covers in the vehicles wheel path

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: I had thought it was illegal to transport gravel and rocks in an uncovered trailer. I've seen gravel and large (4-inch cubes) of rocks being transported on Eagle Road and I-84. These trucks have covers, but they are not in place. I always try to be in a different lane or get ahead of them. How can we get these drivers to cover their loads?

Randy

Road Wizard:

ACHD does not own or maintain any interstate highways around Ada County— those fall under the jurisdiction of Idaho Transportation Department (ITD). The Idaho Legislature states under Idaho Statutes (Title 49, Motor Vehicles Chapter 6, Rules of the Road): "Any vehicle operating on a paved public highway with a load of dirt, sand or gravel susceptible to being dropped, spilled, leaked or otherwise escaping therefrom shall be covered so as to prevent spillage. Covering of such loads is not required if six (6) inches of freeboard is maintained."

There are also several exclusions listed to this rule such as vehicles owned by canal companies, irrigation districts, drainage districts, contractors, government, contractors working on highways etc. Further details can be found here: https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/title49/t49ch6/sect49-613/

Dear Road Wizard: I am puzzled why there are so many manhole covers that are in the line of the vehicle traffic tire travel. It appears the placement is not taken into consideration and a huge percentage are in the line of traffic use. I spoke with a couple of ACHD employees, but none fully satisfied my question.

Anonymous

Road Wizard:

ACHD requires utilities to place concrete collars around the manhole lids and water valves to provide more structural stability at these potential failure points. Often, the ground around the manholes and valve risers settles because it is harder to compact the soil and subbase materials adjacent to these vertical structures. Our inspectors make every effort to ensure the contractors are doing the job correctly, however, lack of manpower and an overwhelming number of structures can make this a challenge sometimes.

When these manholes/collars do fail, ACHD requires the utility owner to make the necessary repairs. Since ACHD owns the storm drain systems, they also hold themselves accountable. Over the past summer, 75 manholes on various roads were put on contract to be repaired.

Regarding the location on manhole covers-things can be a little complicated. Utilities have a statutory right to be within ACHD's right of way, and the sanitary sewer system was established many years ago. The horizontal alignments chosen within a roadway may have worked when a road was only a two-lane roadway initially, however, now many of these roads have been widened to multiple lanes with a center lane. Because of this, manholes may end up in the vehicle wheel path.

Engineers and designers do put a great deal of thought into the locations of manholes for newly built roads, however, when they are tied into an existing roadway, they have more limited economical options.

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