The data collected from the first 60,000 trips on Boston’s Street Bump app tells us that Boston’s road bumpiness is primarily driven by metal castings that are no longer flush with the road. We want a good fix for this. Our Public Works Department has done extensive analysis of its roadways and what reduces their smoothness for cyclists and drivers. The most problems seem to arise from metal castings that have sunk below or popped above the asphalt around them. These castings – or manhole covers – are usually removable, providing important access to the utilities below ground.
Fixing sunken or raised manhole covers often requires cutting into the road to reset the castings. Cutting into the road not only raises costs but also causes traffic congestion. More importantly, cutting into the road hinders the integrity of the roadway itself, often resulting in potholes and hastening the need for additional investment in complete roadway resurfacing and reconstruction.
Across Boston’s 800 miles of roadway, there are over 30,000 castings. While the castings are distributed throughout the city, a significant number tend to be on the older, higher traveled thoroughfares in our neighborhoods and downtown areas. In a preliminary review, the City has already identified at least 1,000 castings in need of repair.
We imagine a solution to this problem that takes one of two approaches. We are interested in new designs for castings that, at a low cost, can better withstand the pressures of heavy traffic and tough winters. Additionally, for those castings that become problematic, we are looking for designs or technologies that can make the road smooth again while minimizing destruction of the surrounding asphalt surface. In both cases cost is an important consideration.
After being approached to participate by a representative of the conference, we completed out first round entry and submitted it to CityMart.com (a website that provides an outlet to feature innovative products that will help solve the problems faced by communities around the world). Confident that the durability, versatility and cost savings associated with utilizing the Top Hat rubber manhole riser, we were excited to move forward with the competition.
We were pleased to learn that we had been selected as finalists for the Boston call, and that Top Hat Risers would be featured in the weekend long LLGA event in San Francisco in April 2013. Abart Industries representative, David Abbott, attended the event and had the opportunity to introduce Top Hat Rubber manhole risers to communities throughout the world.
In the end, Top Hat Risers were not chosen as Boston’s solution at the LLGA Conference, but we are honored to be nominated as finalists, and thank the LLGA committee for allowing Abart Industries to introduce the Top Hat Riser to communities around the world. Since the conference, the City of Boston has contacted Abart Industries, and we are currently in talks with the City to repair their many low and uneven castings.
We are always looking to include Top Hat Risers in any green initiative competitions, municipality conferences or any other event that could help get the word out on this innovative solution for smoother roads. If you know of an event that you think would be of interest to us, or if you would like to discuss the product further, please contact us today!