Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Scary Storm Grates: The "Snuff Box"

Freaky-scary snuff box at Cincinnati and Indiana

I'm in a rut of posting about things that suck. Maybe that's winter kicking in finally. This will be the last sucky post for a while -- I don't want to turn into one of those nattering nabobs of negativism.

This particular grate is called a "snuff box" by the engineers. How appropriate, as the grates are likely to snuff any roadie or other narrow-tire riding cyclist who is not paying attention.

So, this scary-ass storm grate does suck, but there's kind of a silver lining: The city knows they suck. The city also knows that there are 540 of these in the city of Spokane. When ever a project is scheduled where these grates exist, the city replaces the grate at a cost of $500 - $1200 per grate.

That's the good part. The not-so-good part is that the city doesn't know exactly where all 540 of these grates are. It would be righteous to have this data for the Master Bike Plan. The other bummer is that replacing a snuff box, when it's not part of an existing road project, costs as much as $10,000 per grate.

So there's that.

Looking through my e-mails with the city engineers on this, it seems only fair to post one bit of correspondence from them:

I checked and we do not have a complete inventory of these types ofgrates. Our Hansen/GIS system lists some 540 "snuff box" type catchbasins, the kind shown in the photo sent by Mr. Speare, out of a totalof about 17,000 catch basins in the city system. That's about 3% of the total grates but this number may be low. It's only been over the last few years that our techs have been going back in and revising our electronic records to note specifically the type of catch basin or inlet as a snuff box or other when confirmed in the field. As you know, and eluded to in your previous email to Mr. Speare, these are old style grates and inlets that were installed years ago all over the City that we replace whenever they are encountered in a capital project or streetbond project. I know a number of these snuff boxes are to be replaced in the upcoming 2008 street bond and other projects. I was also told by Brian, in charge of our construction crew, that they plan to replace a number of these snuff boxes along Wellesley this summer too.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the riffs on biking. FYI I ran across a similar story in the PI. Read it here. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/transportation/347205_drains14.html

I enjoy checking in on your updates. Keep it up!

Tom said...

I've been a victim of the snuff box.