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When a street is resurfaced (by adding a layer of asphalt) these hoops are put in place to raise the manhole covers to the new level, so as to not leave a "dip" in the road... a big hazard to bicycles. What I can't figure out is where they find tiny men to fit through these holes.
The company I am a foreman for used to turn thousands of manhole risers out every year. Now that the economy took a dump we're lucky to do a couple hundred a year. End result is at the present everyone including myself are laid off.