TRURO, N.S. – Having a $1,200 vehicle rim destroyed by a pot hole was maddening enough. But the response Matthew McLellan said he received from the transportation department when he called to report it, took it to a new level.
“I was pretty mad,” the Truro resident said. “If there were signs up I wouldn’t have been as mad but there was no warning.”
McLellan was travelling along Robie Street in Lower Truro one rainy evening in early March when he struck the water-filled pothole that wrecked the factory rim on his 2016 Kia Sedona.
“I knew my rim was completely toast as soon as I hit it,” he said.
Cost to replace the rim is about $1,200, he said. Because there were no signs warning of the pothole, McLellan expected he could be reimbursed by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.
After waiting almost a month from the time he submitted his claim, however, MacLellan was informed in writing he would not be compensated.
“For liability to be determined on the Crown in regards to road hazards, there must be prior knowledge of the hazard as well as no attempt to rectify the situation within their service standard,” a department claims officer said in a letter to McLellan.
“It has been determined as part of my review, that the Department had knowledge of said hazard and have been responding to it as they get notifications,” the letter continued. “However, since they last attended to said hazard there have been no notifications. As such the Department has acted accordingly within their mandate and I cannot find negligence on the Department.”
McLellan said it became even more infuriating when he called the claims officer to question that decision.
“When I asked him why, he said they did everything in their power,” he said. “When I asked him if they had to have signs up he told me, no, as long as they monitored it, basically.”
The pothole has since been temporarily repaired.
Spokeswoman Marla MacInnes said the department had been notified about the pothole sometime during the winter, but she could not confirm exactly when.
“The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal’s pothole signage requirements are based on the size, depth and type of road the pothole is on,” she said. “A reoccurring pothole on Robie Street has been caused by a collapsed storm drain. The drain will be repaired later this year. In the meantime, the area is being monitored in order to fill the pothole when required.”
She said the Robie Street pothole had been filled several times “and at one point they said they did mark it.”
The department’s Pothole Criteria and Response Time Table says that “pothole conditions not meeting the minimum criteria … shall be repaired within the construction season. Work shall be performed in conjunction with other maintenance activities in the vicinity of the pothole.”
The department’s criteria also states that pot holes on all roads are to be signed immediately or within a 24 hour-period.
McLellan said the hole definitely was not marked when he struck it. And after reviewing the department’s policy, he said he feels completely misled.
“If he’s saying that it doesn’t need a sign how come they have the pothole criteria saying that pretty well every one of these have to be done within 24 hours?” McLellan said.
“I mean, technically he’s lying to me saying he doesn’t need the signs, when really he does. So, he was more or less just trying to get out of having to pay for that rim and tire.”