By Leeann Akers - Editor
Jan. 9, 2013 — Most motorists don't notice the grates covering drainage areas beside the highway … until those grates are gone.
Allen Blair, public information officer with the Department of Transportation District 9, says theft of those grates has become a problem on several levels.
“We have a number of missing grates across the district on several different roads,” Blair said. “We are currently doing a district-wide inventory and closely working with local law enforcement to make sure that the people who take grates are prosocuted.”
Preventing these thefts is very important to the DOT, since theft means more cost to taxpayers.
Each grate, which may only bring a thief around $100 at a scrap yard, can cost the state thousands of dollars to replace.
“Each grate is a different size or shape, so they have to be made specifically for that particular opening,” Blair said. “The more money we have to spend replacing these things, the less we have for other road repairs.”
The Department of Transportation maintains roads with monies that come from gasoline sales.
Surprisingly water, and not use, is what does the most damage to state roads.
“Water creates potholes and does damage underneath roads,” Blair explained. “Grates keep debris from getting into the drainage system. Without the grates there is a greater risk of flooding and damage on those roads.”
Blair also said that a missing grate leaves an empty hole into the drainage system. Some holes are shallow, but others are quite deep, which could lead to major injuries and death of unsuspecting motorists.