Loose manhole cover clanked for a year

September 04, 2007

THE PROBLEM -- An ill-fitting and noisy manhole cover on Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore has aggravated a homeowner for more than a year.

THE BACKSTORY -- Andrew Mehri couldn't get to sleep at night, and he blamed a loose manhole cover that didn't quite cover the hole. Every time a car or truck went over it, he said, the noise jolted his family awake.

Mehri said he called the city "so many times that I have lost count."

He wrote Watchdog: "If you feel like wanting to have a headache please call me to have a little stay at my house to enjoy the quality of life I am paying this city to provide. ... I called 311. I wrote letters. I tried to talk to people in the office and all I got was a runaround."

Mehri, who lives in the 3200 block of Harford Road, said work crews did replace the cover with a metal plate that he said had bolts sticking up and made even more noise than before. "I gave up because there is no way I can get them to do a competent job," he wrote.

This particular manhole cover belongs to the city Department of Transportation because it is used to cover a conduit box for traffic signals and lights. Adrienne Barnes, a spokeswoman for that agency, said work crews visited the site and "did not hear the magnitude of noise that this customer said could be heard."

Mehri said he watched the crews and complained that "they were not patient enough to wait for a car to roll over the plate in the right way."

Barnes said officials decided to replace the manhole cover. On Wednesday, crews replaced some cement and put a new metal plate over it, which will be removed once the cement settles. "That should solve the problem," the spokeswoman said. "We took extra measures to try and quiet it down as much as we could."

Mehri confirmed that repairs had been made. "It's like a miracle," he said.

WHO DID FIX THIS -- Richard Baker, acting chief of the conduit section for the city Department of Transportation.

UPDATE

It's been more than five weeks since the Housing Authority of Baltimore City promised to take care of an unpermitted billboard hanging on the side of an apartment building on St. Paul Street in Mid-Town Belvedere.

Last week, Darrell Bishop, the original complainant, fired off an angry letter to Mayor Sheila Dixon's office. "My question to you is this," Bishop wrote. "Just what do I have to do to get this thing removed? I have followed established procedures and the city government, which you head, apparently doesn't. ... If they don't do their jobs, replace them."

Julie Day, an attorney for the code enforcement section for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, who has said for weeks that the issue would be dealt with, said Friday that an agency spokeswoman would be in charge of answering questions about the problem.

But before Day signed off giving updates about the billboard, she once again promised action. "We're working on it," she said. "I have an attorney on it. It will be done."

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