Construction and new pavement on Springdale road, Route 390, by the Department of Transportation and Works is causing quite a stir among residents of the region who travelled the road last week over what was, at the time, freshly laid tar.
Several incidents have been reported by motorists who have come forward, complaining that the fresh, wet tar was flicked up on their vehicle’s wheels and sides – causing it to stick to the vehicles and leaving them to visit local body shops or find other means to have it cleaned.
The incidents happened last Wednesday morning, as the contractor began laying the new black-top, but allowed vehicles to travel over it while it was evidently still wet.
Dawn Wiseman of Robert’s Arm says she was one of those people who was forced to drive over the fresh tar. She was headed into Springdale for a doctor’s appointment when they came upon the construction on Wednesday morning.
Her and her mother, who was driving, drove over the fresh tar, which they didn’t know was fresh at the time. They discovered that it was, when they arrived at the hospital.
“We didn’t see a sign anywhere saying there was fresh tar,” she said. “So we drove over it, and didn’t know anything about it until we got to the hospital, got out, and I screamed ‘Oh my, what’s on my car?’”
Wiseman says her Ford Explorer is light grey, so the tar was extremely noticeable.
After her appointment, she says they ran an errand at the local Home Hardware – where they were met by several other people in a similar situation, there seeking advice and products to get the tar off their own vehicles.
“There were people there from all over – South Brook, Springdale, Long Island – all of them with tar on their machines, and trying to find some way to get it off,” explained Wiseman.
Upon returning home, she says she started making calls to the Government and the contractor, Provincial Paving, but didn’t get very far with any of the avenues she pursued.
“It’s not good enough,” she said. “the Government isn’t doing anything about it, and the company seems like they don’t care.” Wiseman says she was given the number of Provincial Paving’s insurance company, however, they didn’t return her call as of the time of interview on Friday. She also contacted her own insurance company who said to have her vehicle cleaned she would have to pay a deductible.
Sadly, though, Dawn Wiseman is only one of many who have come forward and expressed distain over how the situation has been handled by all parties involved.
Kelvin Kelleher says he’s been collecting names of several people who have been affected. He’s amassed a list of well over a dozen names of people with tarred vehicles.
“That’s just the people that have called me, because they knew I was taking names,” he said. “I know there are dozens more out there who haven’t bothered to come forward and are still affected by it.”
Local garage Eric’s Auto body in Springdale have also seen over a dozen customers that have needed cleaning of their vehicles because of the tar.
“We’ve invoiced over a dozen people so far, and have appointments for more,” said Tina Anstey, an employee of Eric’s Auto Body. “Each cleaning is averaging $150.00 because of the products and labour needed to get the tar off the vehicles.”
Kelleher says he wants to know who’s going to reimburse these people for the money spent to clean their vehicles.
One place people are looking is Provincial Paving – the contractor hired by the Department of Transportation and Works to do the job.
Levi House, President of Provincial Paving says they’re just doing their job on Springdale road, and there isn’t much they can do with regard to the complaints people are lodging.
“It’s part of the contract we have with the Department of Transportation and Works,” he said. “The product is the product that’s recommended and that’s tendered into the tender document and it has to be applied at a certain rate.”
That rate, says House, is a regulation from the Government that his company has to meet.
“The requirement is that the highway be tack-coated full width,” he explained, meaning both lanes have to be done at once. “When driving through this stuff it’s almost like driving through a puddle of water – but if the signage is up and everyone keeps their speed down, then there shouldn’t be a problem.”
House says that his company was dealing with a two-lane highway on Route 390, with nowhere else to send traffic other than over the freshly laid tar.
“We did what we had to do,” he continued. “The signs were up, flags people were directing traffic – there’s not much more we can do.
“I feel for anyone that’s in this situation, because generally we’ve got road enough that we can divert traffic,” he explained. “We’re very restricted, with a difficult work area – if it was a nice, warm day, it wouldn’t have taken long for the tack-coat to dry, but on cooler days it takes longer.”
For people like Dawn Wiseman and more like her, though, they’re still looking for answers and can’t seem to find any from those in control.
Messages left by the Nor’Wester for the Department of Transportation and Works were not returned by press time.