Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm Not Sure What's Worse

So, is it dumber to "fix" Indy's exploding utility manhole problem by anchoring the covers down using high-strength steel cable, so they will just hop up, emit copious amounts of smoke, flame and/or steam when the stuff down there blows up; or is it dumber to refer to them as "manhole cover explosions?"

...Um, d00d, it's not the cover blows up, it's the transformers, etc. down underneath it!

(Oh, boy: exploding underground utility vaults, some chance of rather a whole lot of snow, and "the world's longest temporary zipline." What could possibly go wrong during Superbowl week?)

13 comments:

Nathan said...

I think what we need is a Manhole Cover Launching Contest.

That's what would really put the capper on the Stupor Bowl festivities!

karrde said...

So a zip-line rider impacts a manhole cover thrown by an explosion and somehow gets diverted into a large snowbank, and paramedics spend and hour trying to dig him out...

What else can we add to the mix?

Jeff said...

Are we the only city that has things going buzzz, bang, BOOM under the streets? Is it really that big a deal? There's a lot of stuff down there, some of it's old. Sometimes it fails. They fix it. I know, it would suck to have it happen right next to you, but it isn't really that common. More likely to get run over by a car when crossing the street down there.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Well, you can have the Cleveland Special, which is having 70-80-90 year old Water Mains burst because of the Freeze/Thaw Cycle, thus Flooding out Streets, then turning them into Hockey Rinks. Had 3 last night up here.

Gewehr98 said...

Dunno, when I was knee high to a grasshopper, I used to have a line-control P-40 Warhawk w/Cox .049 engine.

A line-control flying manhole cover would be fun for at least a few seconds!

BGMiller said...

Somebody should go around and number all the manhole covers.

People could buy a chance on a cover at a dollar a pop *snicker* and if "their" cover is the next to go airborne they win half the collected money. The other half goes fixing the infrastructure. Every time a cover blows it resets the pool.

It'd be like the lottery but with odds that actually favor the players.

BGM

Drang said...

In Seattle, underground utility vaults electrocute you...
...well, your pets:
Seattle inspecting street lights after dog electrocuted | KING5.com Seattle

Robin said...

They've been renamed "Unscheduled Manhole Tour Vacations".

roscoe said...

PG&E has been having the same issue in San Francisco. A trend of crumbling infrastructure....just like roads--not so sexy to pay for.

Roberta X said...

Roscoe, Indy's (largely electrical) manhole explosions aren't just like roads: IPL is a private company. They can allocate money to infrastructure, and (after approval) even get a rate hike to cover it. They have not so done.

IPL sold itself to a large utility some years ago. It's been downhill ever since. Maybe it was time to get out -- they burn a lot of coal -- but it's too bad the new owners want to run so close to the edge. We had a darned big power hit earlier this week, an explosion/fire at a downtown substation above ground, that make me wonder how things are gonna go for Superbowl week.

KurtP said...

Roberta hit it on the head (again). Transformers don't wear out.
Something (sewer rats, gators, ???) are causing the power to go where it's not supposed to, then the transformers try to make it up and BOOM goes the windings.

Dave H said...

Transformers do wear out, from heating. It degrades insulation, loosens connections, and may cause oil seals to leak. Transformers are designed to dissipate waste heat but when they're installed underground that doesn't work so well. Add in the fact that many transformers are being called on to supply larger loads than they were originally installed for. More power = more heat = faster failure.

Desktop computers have caused a significant increase in power demands in commercial areas (like downtown business districts, where you're most likely to find underground transfomers) in the last 30 years. Many of the transfomers in those areas were installed long before that.

mikee said...

When I was a grad student at Ga Tech, two undergrad lab partners of mine lived in the student slums surrounding the school. They had a cockroach problem one summer, with the bugs coming up through drains into their sinks. Being chemists, they decided the best way to eliminate the scourge was to pour a gallon of gas down the storm drain one house uphill from theirs, then drop a flaming wad of paper down a storm drain downhill from their house.

Hilarity ensued as ALL the manholes on their block became airborne, spouting jets of flame from the holes.

Discretion being a very large component of their valor, they scampered back into their home and denial all knowledge of anything until well after they graduated.