MassDOT Continues Inspections of Manhole Covers in the Wake of Deadly Accident

As the warmer weather approaches, Boston and the surrounding areas begin to prepare for increased tourism and heavy traffic. This year, a major part of this preparation involves testing manhole and storm drain covers in and around the city. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) wants the public to know they haven’t forgotten the deadly accident earlier this year that resulted in the death of a young teacher. Milton elementary school teacher Caitlin Clavette was killed in February when a loose manhole cover became airborne and crashed through the windshield of her SUV. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

More than 1,100 Manhole Covers in Boston

In the wake of Clavette’s death, MassDOT has begun an investigation of the more than 1,100 manhole covers throughout the city of Boston. The cause of the accident, which occurred in the O’Neil Tunnel, is still under investigation. The manhole cover, which weighed approximately 200 pounds, may have become airborne due to an underground explosion. But the first step in preventing a similar tragedy is to physically test all manhole and drain covers, perform maintenance where necessary, and ensure that all covers are securely bolted down. “That’s something that should have been taken care of years ago,” said Randolph resident John Thermitus.

Many of the City’s Manhole Covers Remain Unsecure

Immediately following February’s freak accident, MassDot tested and performed maintenance on a total of 69 manhole covers. Despite their efforts, some Boston-area drivers are worried about a similar occurrence. Although MassDOT is continuing to inspect the city’s manhole and drain covers, some people are worried they’re not working fast enough. As of April, many covers remain loose, not securely bolted down. “I think that causes a lot of concerns for other drivers. Not only do we have to worry about potholes, now we have to worry about manhole covers that are loose,” said Thermitus.

To improve standards and follow best practices of other states, MassDOT “is revising road infrastructure inspections, which are done every two years … to include more physical tests of each cover site, such as checking the stability of the cover.”

MassDOT has come under fire in recent years for multiple issues, including bus accidents, train accidents, and massive breakdowns in the public transit system. Hopefully this will be a turning point for MassDOT’s reputation.

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