As southbound semis turn from U.S. 50 onto State Road 135 at the western edge of Brownstown, a manhole lid sometimes scoots out of place.
Brownstown Wastewater Utility Superintendent Scott Hunsucker recently discussed that issue with the Brownstown Town Council.
“If the lid pops up and we can’t get it back in, we’re in trouble,” he said. “We’ll have to block it and barricade it.”
While he said it wasn’t on his radar to work on the manhole, Hunsucker said it needs to be addressed because it’s a safety hazard.
“If you sit there and watch the semis … if it was a few feet either way, they probably would straddle it,” he said of the manhole. “The way it is, the fronts go over it and the backs come, and a lot of time, the backs, when they hit it, you can actually sometimes see the truck will kind of jump and scoot a little bit.”
Hunsucker said he could replace the frame and cover, but it’s a brick manhole, there’s very little lip left and the concrete in the manhole is really soft.
He said it would be best to get a permit from the Indiana Department of Transportation to shut the area down for a few days to do the work. He already has applied for the permit, and he received a repair estimate of $17,500 from Lawyer Excavation Inc. in Seymour.
Councilman Gary Drake asked if it’s possible to block off the area until the work can be done and if semi drivers could go around it.
“You would just get rid of the turn if you do that,” Councilman Tim Robinson said.
“Where it’s the turn lane, they’ve pretty much got to go over it,” Hunsucker said. “If we cut off a manhole to keep them off it, then that will force the semi to get out of the turn lane to go back around.”
Drake said if Hunsucker presses the point to INDOT that this is a safety hazard, that might speed up the process.
“When I showed INDOT the pictures and started explaining it, we’ll be on the lead end of it because INDOT would rather have a planned repair,” Hunsucker said. “If something happens tonight, I can get an emergency repair, but since we know the issue, they would much rather go through the hoops and go through the process.”
Council President Gregg Goshorn asked Hunsucker if he had the money in his budget to cover the cost. Hunsucker said it could come out of the capital improvement fund.
Drake suggested pursuing grant funding, but Hunsucker said if it was a project consisting of repairing several manholes, a lift station and the sewer system, that could be an option. That may come a few years down the road.
“They are not in bad shape,” Hunsucker said of other manholes around town. “At some point, we’re going to have to look at doing some rehab work, but I don’t think we have that when you open it up, it’s going to fall in.”
The council unanimously approved to have Lawyer Excavation do the work on the manhole at U.S. 50 and State Road 135.
“I don’t think we have much choice,” Drake said. “It sounds like you’re doing everything you can do.”