Dustin Doyle has to almost drive in the grassy median on the newly opened section of Whiteland Road to get around the manhole covers that are a few inches above street level.
The Bargersville resident uses the road daily and said driving over the manholes could lower the pressure in his tires or cause the tires to become misaligned, risks he doesn’t want to take.
The manhole covers have been sticking out of the ground since early December, when the Johnson County Highway Department reopened the section of Whiteland Road between Saddle Club Road and State Road 135.
The manholes are used by construction crews working in the storm sewers below the street and are important to help drain the road, highway department director Luke Mastin said.
He said the manholes will not damage motorists’ cars, but the county temporarily removed some of the manholes that stuck up higher to prevent them from causing problems. When the county removed the manholes, workers put asphalt over the area where the manhole used to be, Mastin said.
About four raised manhole covers are left on the stretch of Whiteland Road, which had been closed for construction for nearly four months.
“You might find potential for damage if you’re driving at a high rate of speed. But you shouldn’t see damage at lower speeds,” Mastin said.
The manhole covers are at the height they should be when the county puts a final layer of asphalt on Whiteland Road, which will not take place until late next year, he said.
The county has put asphalt around the manhole covers still on the street so that motorists can drive over them more smoothly, but nearby resident Michael Mascari said the asphalt is coming loose and does not prevent motorists from noticing the bumps when driving over them.
“I think driving down the road and hitting those would be like driving over a speed bump at 50 mph. (The asphalt is) supposed to allow us to drive up and over, but it’s not a smooth situation,” Mascari said.
Mastin said the highway department wants to hold off on putting the final layer of asphalt down on Whiteland Road until the county finishes construction on a second section of the street next year because officials do not want construction trucks to tear up the newly paved road.
The entire $8 million project on Whiteland Road includes widening almost 2.5 miles of the road between State Road 135 and County Road 144 to two lanes with a median. The road could be widened to four lanes in the future as traffic increases.
Construction on the second half of the project between Saddle Club Road and County Road 144 will be finished late next year, and the county plans to put a final layer of asphalt on the entire road, including the section that now has the raised manhole covers.
Mastin said the county plans to monitor the raised manholes through the winter to see if they cause any problems for motorists, such as causing tires to lose pressure. If the county does see the manholes causing damage, construction workers could put the final layer of asphalt down early next year when the weather is warmer, he said.
Mascari lives off Whiteland Road in the newly constructed area and said he thought the county always planned to put the final layer of asphalt down early next year. He said he was surprised when he heard the road would be unfinished for about a year.
He said the raised manhole covers could cause problems not only for his car but also for the county’s snowplows.
“I don’t see how the county can plow that road because the plows would hit the manholes. It could break the plow,” Mascari said.
Mastin said the highway department asked snowplow drivers to be more careful on Whiteland Road during this past week’s storm and didn’t have any problems with the manhole covers.
“We asked them to travel slowly through that area to make sure they don’t have any issues,” he said.