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Steel plates in the streets?

Original post made by Sore Tires, Midtown, on Nov 2, 2009

Does anyone know why Palo Alto seems to have more steel than asphalt paving the streets these days? And poorly placed steel plates at that. Driving around town lately has made me feel more like I'm on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland than anything. What's up?

Comments (4)

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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2009 at 6:38 pm

I can't confirm this, but I was told this many years ago.

Most of the long staying plates in residential areas are due to a disconnect between the Utilities Department and the Public Works Department. Here's the typical scenario:

Utilities digs up the street to fix a gas/water/sewer leak. They fill the hole, but it's Public Works Department responsibility to replace the pavement. The steel plates remain until this happens.

Public Works often "batches" these holes and contracts out the repaving when there are enough holes to make it worth while and cost effective for the contractors.

So, the plates remain, until there are enough of them city-wide to contract out the repaving.

As I said, I can't confirm this. It was said to me years ago by someone in the Public Works Department. Perhaps a current Public Works person could chime in and either confirm, or tell us exactly what the process is for repaving under the steel plates.

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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Those steel plates are extremely dangerous for bicyclists. Be careful out there, especially now that commute hours are in the dark. If road conditions are especially bad, you can file a complaint with the city before someone gets hurt: Web Link

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Posted by Lineman for the City
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2009 at 10:24 pm

The City has a few large projects under construction right now. The downtown area is getting a big upgrade to there electric system. The contractor who bid the job will also be doing the restoration. A lot of these jobs take a few days to weeks to finish. The streets are repaired as soon as possible. I know of a plate that was on the corner of El Camino and Matadero for six months. The City waited that long for Cal Trans to make repairs to their system. Add to that the water,gas,waste water,storm drain, and fiber work. The City does most of it's asphalt repairs if they did the digging.

And the steel plates can be slick and bumpy for bicycles so be careful.

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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Why are those steel plates always black or dark gray, making them really hard to see in the dark? Can they be painted with neon or reflective paint to make them safer? Or put cones around them so people can see where they are?

I thought there was a requirement that the edges of the plates be sloped so that they did not kill bicycle tires, but that is apparently widely ignored.

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