In November and December 2003, T.A. surveyed 1,006 metal construction plates in Manhattan. These are the ubiquitous "skid" plates contractors use to cover street cuts when they are not doing work. City regulations require all metal construction plates to be large enough to cover street cuts and to be firmly anchored, countersunk or ramped to prevent movement and rocking as well as provide a smooth transitioned with the street; plates must also have skid resistant equal to or greater than the adjacent road surface (DOT Highway Rules Section 2-11, e 10). In addition, contractors must stamp their name on the plates and post signs with their contact information at construction sites. During winter months, contractors must also post signs stating, "Steel Plates Ahead Raise Plow."
But T.A. found that only 1.9% of contractors’ plates met all of the City’s requirements for skid resistance, anchoring and signage. Of the 1,006 plates T.A. inspected, 42.2% were properly anchored, countersunk or ramped, 33.9% had a skid-resistant surface and 14.1% of plates had proper signage indicating contractor name, contact information and construction dates.
When installed properly, plates protect the traveling public from falling in to street cuts. When installed improperly, metal plates can cause pedestrians to slip, cyclist to crash and motorists to skid. Crossing a steel construction plate during or after a rain shower or snowfall can be highly risky; a quick change of direction or stop can result in a crash.
The City DOT’s 107
Highway Inspection and Quality Assurance street inspectors need to pay
particular attention to these requirements and crackdown on
The City DOT could also restart its bicycling street inspector program, which was very successful in the early 1990s. Giving inspectors a bicyclist’s perspective would help improve safety. The bottom line is that the agency needs to get more street inspectors out to experience the shattered streets and issue summonses.
T.A.'s "Heavy Metal" report surveyed 1,006 metal construction plates in Manhattan.