Fukui: Prefectural Roads Criticized for Pitfalls of Partially Covered Gutters

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A partially covered roadside gutter is seen along a prefectural road in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.

TSURUGA, Fukui — Seeing a ditch or hole right next to the road is something that can put many drivers on edge. In Fukui Prefecture, some of the gutters that run along prefectural roads are only partially covered, raising concerns among drivers.

The openings are large enough for a tire of a passenger vehicle to fit into, and at least one vehicle has had its tire get stuck. The Fukui prefectural government is trying to implement measures to prevent further accidents.

Roadside gutters, which are about 30 to 50 centimeters wide, were only partially covered along a prefectural road in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, in late April. The uncovered portions, which measure about 1 meter in length, repeat at regular intervals for dozens of meters.

Many tourists visit the area to see the scenic view of Tsuruga Bay. However, when some tourists try to pull over to the side of the road, they abruptly turn the wheel back when they notice the huge holes where the roadside gutters are.

In November, one driver got their vehicle’s tire stuck in an opening as they were driving. This is the only case that the road administrator — the prefectural government — is aware of. However, according to a manager of a nearby shop, several cars have had to be pulled out of the roadside gutters by tow trucks.

According to the prefecture, roadside gutters that are only partially covered make it easier to drain and easier to clean, making them less expensive.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A sign informs drivers about partially covered roadside gutters in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, in April.

The prefectural government, which says the current state of the gutters poses no legal issues, started covering more openings at the end of April and has set up signs and barriers to warn drivers about the open gutters.