Company responsible for dozens of flat tires attempting to settle for $50
JARREAU - About 60 homes on Pecan Island in Jarreau are using a gravel road to access their neighborhood while the bridge leading to the community is under construction. As one homeowner explains to 2 On Your Side, that gravel road is made up of material that has caused dozens of flat tires.
Twig Castello says each time he drives on the road he's taking a risk.
"We call it a minefield," Castello said. "We don't know if we're going to get in and out or not without getting a flat on it."
The road was built through sugar cane fields by a construction company as a temporary path for Pecan Island residents. The material used has pieces of rebar and metal mixed in.
"The material that they used to build the road with was crushed concrete that they didn't get all the metal out of, and we are just fighting a battle here that you wouldn't believe," he said.
The road is the only way in and only way out for people living there. Castello drives on it every day. He says in the 90 days the road has been open he has had four flat tires. Two of those tires are on his motor home and cost about $400 to replace.
Castello isn't the only one who has had a problem. So far, there have been at least 70 flat tires reported by his neighbors. They've made noise about it and the contracting company, Brown Industrial Construction responded. The company has been using a large magnet to collect the metal.
"They picked up probably a five-gallon bucket full of metal the first day they did it," Castello said.
He's picked up a bunch of metal and rebar, too.
"Some of it was just laying on top of the road. Some of it was embedded in the road and you could see it—the points of the metal—just sticking up out of the road."
The risk is unavoidable. A few months into the project and the company is still using a magnet to pick up the metal. People are also still getting flat tires.
Another resident living on Pecan Island says they have had damage to their home as pilings are drilled into the ground. Their kitchen countertop cracked causing about $8,000 in damage. Castello wants to know who is going to pay for all the problems they're having. He and others have filed a claim through Brown Industrial Construction.
Last week, Castello received a settlement response from Brown. The company is offering him $50 for his troubles. The settlement letter says BIC has investigated and "while we are unable to verify any fault on the part of BIC, we have nevertheless been authorized to extend to you the amount of $50 in exchange for your release of any claims, damages, losses, or causes of action whether known or unknown, arising from BIC’s work on the Project..."
"Fifty dollars, I mean, that's like someone walking up to me and just slapping me," said Castello.
That slap is felt each time he drives to and from his house. Castello says while the company is doing things to try and help him, it's not enough.
This bridge project was contracted out by DOTD. The state says it's the responsibility of the contractor to ensure the materials in use are proper. BIC has not returned 2 On Your Side's calls.
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