Unsecured manhole cover damages vehicles in Clearwater; Pinellas Co. officials can’t confirm who is responsible

Better Call Behnken

Business owners along Summerdale Drive say one driver fell into the manhole while trying to retrieve his bumper

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a mysterious, dangerous manhole that no one wants to claim.

A manhole cover along Summerdale Drive in Clearwater has been causing problems for drivers for more than a year, business owners tell Better Call Behnken. But over the past several months, it’s out of control.

“When people run over it, it just rounds it out and it and jumps it up and down, and eventually it either pops off or it gets caught,” Derrin Sheehan says he can hear drivers going over the loose manhole cover all day. “I can hear it inside our office,” he said.

Sheehan says people have lost bumpers and one man fell inside the hole months ago while retrieving a bumper and investigating the manhole.

The cover doesn’t fit properly and each time a car goes over it, it clanks. Eventually, it comes loose.

That’s what happened recently when Russell Kaye was on his way to work. He ran over the manhole and was left with an estimate for nearly $1,600 in damage to his car. His bumper, tire, and rim were damaged.

“Loud clunk, and I look back at my mirror and see the pothole, the manhole cover is basically three-quarters of the way off and my care proceeded to actually go through the manhole,” Kaye said.

Kaye said no one will take responsibility for the manhole. He wants the manhole fixed, and he wants his car fixed.

“I’ve been calling the county, the city, everyone I can think of to see who’s responsible and, unfortunately everyone is pointing me in different directions saying it’s not their manhole, it’s not their responsibility,” he said. “I’m just kind of frustrated at this point. It is a safety concern.”

A spokesman for Pinellas County tells Investigator Shannon Behnken that the county is “researching historic right-of-way permits to determine ownership and responsibility.”

In the meantime, he said the cover has been secured.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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