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Pipes are back where they belong, underground

I've noticed what appear to be pipe ends protruding from some Medford streets. They're a lot smaller than manhole covers, maybe 6 inches across, but they seem to have appeared in the past couple of months in a few places in Medford, including on East Main in the vicinity of Highland. I'm wondering what those pipes are and if there's some weather reason or other reason that they've recently popped above pavement level. Also, they appear to be something of a tire hazard, so are they going to be put back in place soon?

— Cathy F., Medford

We know what you're talking about, Cathy, but didn't know what those pipes were. And when we first approached Medford Public Works Director Cory Crebbin, he was stumped for a bit himself about what you could be describing. So he revved up his trusty motorized steed and went out to take a look for himself. Here's what he found:

"Those are utility valves, but since the lids are missing, I don’t know which utility," Crebbin wrote in an email sent Thursday. "They're long vertical pipes down which a valve key can be inserted to open or close a valve, although you can’t get a key down the two I looked at because they’re packed with gravel. Typically, such valve accesses are for water or gas. A Public Works inspector will be checking them today, and if the rise above the pavement is greater than the standard, then the responsible utility will be contacted to make adjustments."

And living up to Crebbin's promise, that appears to have happened. As one of our eagle-eyed Since You Asked sleuths drove along East Main Street Friday, he noticed the pipes were no longer sticking up above the pavement there. Your tires (and ours, as well) are safe for the time being, Cathy, at least from any threat from those pipes.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.