GILBERT (3TV/CBS 5) – Dozens of drivers are asking the state to cover the cost of repairs for damage to vehicles that got caught in a massive cloud of dust and debris during a road maintenance project, 3 On Your Side has learned. It happened on the U.S. 60 between Gilbert and Greenfield Roads last month.
"It was like a hurricane!" Brianna Becker told 3 On Your Side. She drove through the construction mess in her brand new Ford Bronco. "It was just terrible -- rocks hitting left and right. Dust everywhere. It was insane."
Now Becker needs a new paint job and a new grill. According to estimates, the repairs will cost nearly $5,800. She expects the state or the contractor to pay for them. "They opened a freeway that should have never been opened," Becker said.
3 On Your Side wanted to know how many drivers have filed similar claims for vehicle damage on roads throughout the state. A records request revealed that Arizona is facing 49 claims for the November incident on U.S. 60. This year, drivers also have filed 219 claims for unrelated incidents. Of those claims, 129 have been denied or closed out with no action, 37 have been transferred to the contractor for a decision, 33 claims are still open, and just 20 have been approved for payouts totaling less than $23,000. A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Administration says the state does not have information about the results of claims sent to construction contractors.
Heather Dopson's SUV was was damaged in the construction zone on the U.S. 60. "It's pitted all the way across the windshield, and then there are rock chips in the paint, as well," she said, adding that she didn't initially realize she could file a claim with the state.
"I made a snarky tweet to ADOT and said, 'Hey ADOT, where do I send the receipt for the damage?' and to my surprise, ADOT responded," Dopson said.
That social media post started a discussion about damage and repairs. "People saw the tweet and responded to the tweet and said, 'Hey, I didn't know that I could do this,'" she told 3 On Your Side. "I haven't had one person say to me, 'Oh yeah, I knew that!'"
Both Dopson and Becker are waiting to find out if the state will cover their claims.
"I had just made my first payment the week before this happened," Becker said. "I know it's not a big deal to a lot of people, but it hurts."
Claims must be filed within 180 days of the incident. It's a one-page form you submit to the state, along with documentation, including photos and quotes for repairs. If you file a claim, you have to send it to the Arizona Attorney General's office through the mail or drop it off in person.