Road fix in Newaygo leaves sticky mess on cars

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NEWAYGO, Mich. (WOOD) — It was meant as a quick fix for some roads in the city of Newaygo. Instead, some residents said, it left a mess on their cars — sticky tar up to their door handles.

Now, the City of Newaygo is demanding that the contractor pay for the cleanup.

“That’s just nasty,” Arron Johnson said as he scrubbed the wheel well of his Dodge minivan.

Gooey black tar had splattered the sides of his van. He and his wife said they spent Tuesday morning cleaning it up with bug and tar remover. The can cost him $7 and he expects he’ll need a second can. They don’t think they should have to pay for it.

They were among the residents who complained to City Hall about tar making messes of their cars on Monday. City Manager Jon Schneider said his office took complaints all day Tuesday.

“They would like those vehicles cleaned,” Schneider said.

He blamed it on the contractor, Ace Asphalt of Grand Rapids.

The city paid $135,000 last year to Ace to coat five city roads, a process called chip-sealing — a first coat of stones and tar, then a final coat of tar. The city manager said, the work wasn’t done right, so the contractor returned this week to fix it at no cost.

Drivers told 24 Hour News 8 the company didn’t put up warning signs.

“When I was walking on it, it was sticking to the bottom of my boots, so it was pretty fresh,” said Christopher Stump, whose pickup was splattered with tar

Arron Johnson said he drove through the fresh tar on Quarterline Street.

“I don’t know why they didn’t have signs up. But you know what? That’s their responsibility to have signs up,” he said.

The city manager said he expects the contractor would pay for the damage.

“The contractor’s responsible for that,” Schneider said. “The contractor should have put signs out to warn people that the tar was wet.”

In a telephone interview, the owner of Ace Asphalt, Don Burke, based in Grand Rapids, blamed motorists. He said his crew had a flagman to stop traffic, but that drivers went around like “cattle.”

Motorists who spoke with 24 Hour News 8, however, said they never saw a flagman.

Late Tuesday, Burke told 24 Hour News 8 he would pay for the cleanup. The Johnsons said the company has offered to pay them $75 for their cleanup.

The city manager said anyone with complaints should call City Hall. He said he’s forwarding complaints to the contractor.

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