A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Raising those manhole covers: Coming up

Written January 29th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

This manhole cover on Lyon Street doesn’t look bad, but others are lower in the new pavement and will be brought up to grade.

As for the bumps in the new pavement where there are manhole covers on Albany’s downtown Highway 20 couplet, the city says ODOT won’t fix them but the city will.

The bumps are where about half a dozen manhole covers and water valve lids were not raised in order to be level with the new layer of asphalt when ODOT resurfaced Lyon and Ellsworth streets downtown in 2018. This has led to a few complaints and questions. Drivers don’t expect potholes in newly paved roads.

When I asked ODOT about this last November, a spokesman told me that as far as he could learn, the agency was working on a timeline to get the repairs done.

Albany Councilman Bill Coburn brought it up at a council work session Monday. Whatever happened to that project, he wanted to know.

Jeff Blaine, in charge of public works engineering and community development, told the council that ODOT didn’t do adjustments of this kind. So no, the state wouldn’t fix the bumps, but the city would step up.

Later, I asked for and got an explanation from City Engineer Staci Belcastro, who replied: “ODOT maintenance completed the asphalt overlay but their contract did not include valve and manhole adjustments. City staff is working with ODOT to permit the work and will secure a contract to have a number of valves and manholes adjusted to grade on Lyon and Ellsworth Street. There are also manholes owned and operated by Century Link that will be adjusted to grade. We anticipate this work will be completed in March or April of this year.”

There are, Belcastro added, one manhole on Ellsworth and at least six manholes and valve boxes on Lyon Street that will need to be adjusted.

According to the latest ODOT table of traffic volumes, the downtown couplet of the Albany-Corvallis Highway carried 31,000 vehicles a day in 2017, some 18,300 going south on Ellsworth, and 12,700 headed north on Lyon. That’s a lot of backsides that will get bounced around less once those iron covers are raised. (hh)

This story has been edited to clarify the number of covers to be adjusted. 

23 responses to “Raising those manhole covers: Coming up”

  1. James Engel says:

    Just another example of the sillyness of our governmental agencies and the ages old game of “hot potato”. What ought to be is that repairs come out of the supervisors paychecks if work is not done at the time of the original work!

  2. Rich Kellum says:

    It would be interesting to know why 18000 one way and only 12000 the other, why those 6000 folks took a different route back the other way.

    • JM says:

      I was wondering that too, I’m guessing where the sensors were placed may explain it? Daily I take 2nd Avenue instead of continuing on Ellsworth to 99 in the mornings and 1st Avenue with a right turn on the Lyons bridge in the evenings. If the sensors were placed before 2nd Avenue on Ellsworth they would count me entering Albany but not leaving Albany unless the sensor was on the Lyons street bridge. I’m certainly not the only one to take these commuter paths. I’ve learned over 14 years of commuting its better for my daily peace of mind to avoid the double left turn lane weirdness and subsequent merging madness by the train station. 2nd and 1st are great alternatives to Ellsworth/Lyons and Hwy 99 route..

      • Hasso Hering says:

        Thanks for the comment. One thing. Let’s try to remember that there’s no s at the end of Lyon.

        • JM says:

          Had your story about no “s” on Lyon been posted, I wouldn’t have made this mistake. I’ve honestly never noticed the streets signs even though I’ve driven by them I don’t know how many thousands of times so I’ve never known how it was spelled. It’s continued to be perpetuated in my mind because the only way I can keep Ellsworth straight from Lyon is with the mnemonic (I don’t know if mnemonic is the right word) “lions are leaving”. How will I remember it now if grammatically it can’t be “lion are leaving”? I guess it will have to suffer in my mind like poor Harrison and Van Buren in Corvallis! I’ve yet to find a mind trick to keep those two straight (and if I spelled them wrong, I looked them up on Google Maps so it wasn’t me).
          P.S. I do feel somewhat redeemed that my suspicion about the discrepancy in traffic volume was correct. It is interesting to know that 6,000 people per day take the same route I do to avoid Lyon.

      • Rich Kellum says:

        I was told by City Staff that “The numbers for Lyon and Ellsworth Hasso quoted in his blog were taken just south of 1st. Due to the count location the Lyon number ends up being about 6,000 lower than the Ellsworth number because it doesn’t include all the WB right turns from 1st onto Lyon. The actual volumes on the two bridges are pretty close to each other. The numbers don’t indicate a mass exodus from Corvallis and/or the coast.”

  3. L. LaRosseau says:

    There is one other issue, namely the inherent sexism in the very term, manhole. A more abhorrent moniker does not exist. The City Council, upon which Mr. Kellum is enthroned, would demonstrate true gender leadership by spelling out far less offensive nomenclature for what amounts to a hole in the ground. Sheesh!

    • Hasso Hering says:

      You might be interested in my previous story on this. Sacramento addressed the nomenclature years ago.

      • J. Jacobson says:

        As this is a pressing issue with no apparent support from the Council, I would appreciate any supportive information which might allow Albany to move out of the Dark Ages, into the bright progressive light.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Not sure what story you are referencing given you didn’t provide a link.

        But I’ll assume you’re referring to Sacramento’s change to “maintenance hole, or MH”. They did this for practical reasons more than cultural reasons. Their maps designate manholes as MH, so the change doesn’t require an expensive change to the maps.

        As a transitioning progressive, I think it’s critical that government rids itself of occupational references that are gendered like “manhole.” I mean, women can do the same work down in a MH that a man can do. It’s important for a progressive culture to open up (pun intended) MH’s to women.

        I hope this post makes sense. I can barely read the notes I took when researching this topic. My penmanship is atrocious.

        • Gordon L. Shadle says:

          Oops….strike “penmanship” and insert “handwriting.”

          I’m still learning to become woke on gender neutrality.

    • Rich Kellum says:

      L LaRosseau Next you will be wanting the council to talk about Wombpersons instead of Woman. Oh gee the most important things we should be discussing………. I don’t know but I think that there aren’t any people on the council that could possibly be that wacky. Maybe you should run for office, then we could find out if there is enough support for someone who thinks the most important things are pronouns and such…

      • Andy Lasselle says:

        This is such a petty and classless response from a city council member. I expect more respect for your constituents than you’ve shown here.

        • Rich Kellum says:

          Well Andy, if you think that the biggest problem we should face is what things are named instead of how to balance the budget, maybe you should run for office and see whether the Electorate agrees with you, I have found that my Constituents want me to worry about real problems, and how much they cost to fix, they worry about whether or not someone wants to take their property rights for a solution instead of give someone the responsibility for their own solution…. Get involved Andy.. then you can stand up for what you believe and take responsibility for the outcome…

          • Andy Lasselle says:

            Mr. Kellum, I agree with you. I do not think the city council should be wasting time on discussing renaming manholes.

            My issue has everything to do with your completely condescending and dismissive tone towards the commenter, as if her opinion didn’t matter. It was rude, petty, and completely disrespectful. You say that “your constituents want you to worry about real problems.” Well, I am one of your constituents, as I assume L. LaRosseau is. We are your constituents regardless of if you agree with us or not.

            This is me getting involved, sir. I expect my city council members to treat the citizens of this city with respect. I may not be in a position to run for office myself now, but I may be in a position to support someone else who is. I would urge you to apologize to L. LaRosseau, and you would probably be wise to stop encouraging people to run for your seat. You may find someone willing and able to take you up on that offer.

          • Rich Kellum says:

            Hummmmm Andy, let me be precise………… I am not a doormat…….. give snarky get snarky….

  4. Richard Vannice says:

    How about “utility access cover”? While we are on that subject – How often do we refer to the person who delivers our mail as the mailman? Wouldn’t “Postal Person” be more appropriate?

    • L. LaRosseau says:

      Here here! The very idea that someone thought it appropriate to name an entrance into Mother Earth a manhole is horrifying.

    • centrist says:

      “Postman” became “Letter Carrier” years ago.
      Guessing there’s a gender-neutral replacement for “manhole”, but my industrial site stayed with the old terms– handhole, manhole, ship oval, hatch, etc. Each had a specific purpose.
      On another note, I drove both lanes of Ellsworth and Lyon today to test the complaint. I don’t find a significant problem. I suspect that any repair attempt now will only make a small issue large.
      The high-build markers for lanes, crosswalks, et al cause more cumulative noise; but they are also just fine.

  5. Tom Cutsforth says:

    Dear Hasso,

    In regards to whether Lyon street is spelled without an “s”. I believe the origin of the word comes from the maiden name of Abner Hackleman’s wife – Elizabeth “Lyons” Hackleman. As you know, Abner Hackleman came to Oregon in 1845 and claimed much of the land on which we now live. Abner went back to Iowa in 1846 where he encouraged settlement of Oregon to all his friends and neighbors before he died in late
    November of 1846. His son, Abraham, followed his father’s advice and came to Oregon in 1847 with his good friend John Burkhart to begin settlement of his father’s dream.

    I have seen “Lyon” spelled with an “s” (“Lyons”), without an “s” (“Lyon”), and even without a “y” (“Lines”). I was always going to research the real story about its origin. Your article above suggests the correct spelling is “Lyon”. Please enlighten me with the source so I may be better informed.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Thanks for the note, Tom. The authority on which I relied was the Democrat-Herald style book compiled in the 1970s. You can’t get any more authoritative than that, right? (I’m on the road and can’t check right now, but I’m pretty sure old maps of Albany have the name without the s.)


HH Today: A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley
Albany Albany Carousel Albany City Council Albany council Albany downtown Albany Fire Department Albany housing Albany parks Albany Planning Commission Albany police Albany Post Office Albany Public Works Albany riverfront Albany Station Albany streets Albany traffic Albany urban renewal Andy Olson Benton County Benton County parks bicycling bike lanes Bowman Park Bryant Park Calapooia River CARA City of Albany climate change coronavirus COVID-19 Cox Creek path Crocker Lane cumberland church cycling Dave Clark Path DEQ downtown Albany Edgewater Village global warming gun control Highway 20 Interstate 5 Kitzhaber Linn County marijuana medical marijuana Millersburg North Albany Road Obama ODOT Oregon coast Oregon legislature Oregon passenger rail Pacific Power Portland & Western Republic Services Riverside Drive Santiam Canal Talking Water Gardens The Banks Tom Cordier Union Pacific urban renewal Water Avenue Willamette River

Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Hasso Hering