DOT paint job damages 19 cars

DOT paint job damages 19 cars

Smithfield Ave. residents wake up to paint-splattered mess

LINCOLN - Nineteen cars were damaged by Rhode Island Department of Transportation workers painting fog lines on Smithfield Avenue earlier this month, according to police, when cars were sprayed with the white paint after no notice was given to residents about the work.

One of the residents, Katherine Lainhart, said the night of Oct. 9 was the third time in the 14 years she has lived on Smithfield Avenue that her legally-parked cars have been damaged by line painting. Lainhart's insurance claims for the first two instances totaled almost $5,000.

"We knew it was inevitable," Lainhart told The Breeze, as three weeks before, her family noticed workers grating the existing line to prepare to paint.

But when they plan to return is never announced or posted, she said, so short of watching the street for action, "We never know when it's going to happen."

Work was completed by Roadsafe Traffic Systems Inc., said RIDOT spokeswoman Rose Amoros, as part of a $2.1 million contract for select state roads and Park N' Ride lots in Burrillville, Central Falls, Cumberland, Glocester, Lincoln, North Providence, North Smithfield, Pawtucket and Woonsocket. There is also another current contract with the contractor, Amoros said, that includes limited access roadways throughout the state.

RIDOT has received a total of six claims across both contracts, Amoros said, but further details were not available by press time.

Amoros said moving operations such as this case "are usually performed during overnight hours when traffic is minimal and cars are typically not allowed to park on the street."

In one of four reports completed by the Lincoln Police Department for that night, Patrol Officer Bradley Stewart said when he responded to a resident's report of damage around 9 p.m., he saw that there were multiple vehicles between Walker Street and Weeden Street sprayed with paint.

"I made contact with RIDOT workers who were currently spraying on Smithfield Avenue and advised them of the damage to the 19 vehicles," Stewart said in his report. "RIDOT was contacted and stated they would continue spraying and all vehicle owners should contact RIDOT to file a claim for the damage to their vehicles."

Lt. Dana Packer reported that a RIDOT supervisor said the crew would continue to spray the fog line, but would shut down the sprayer as they passed parked cars. The result is a line with strips of new and old paint, and no word if workers are planning to return to finish the job, and what they would do if cars were parked there a second time.

The 19 license plate numbers of damaged cars are listed in the report. Stewart reported the paint was sprayed along the entire driver's side of each car, including on the rims and tires.

Amoros said residents affected should file an accident report with the police, and submit it to RIDOT along with an estimate for the damage.

Lainhart's twin daughters, Alisha and Jess Fiore, now have twin paint stains on their two cars from that night. The damage has yet to be appraised, but Lainhart said they will not be going through their own insurance company this time around because the first two claims - totalling $3,000 the first time and $1,800 the second - have now counted against them.

She added that it took at least a year each time to get her deductible back from the state.

"I'm not going to pay for this out of my pocket," Lainhart said. "I really can't afford to do that."

Lainhart said the family went outside as soon as they saw the painting vehicle moving down the street, so they were able to get a few of the durable paint specks off, but it made little difference. The cars were parked almost 2 feet away from the line being painted, she said.

Lainhart said she thinks the speed at which the paint trucks were traveling had something to do with how much paint was sprayed.

That night, she called upstairs to neighbor Steven Roach to inform him of damage to his car. Roach told The Breeze that this is his first time experiencing the paint damage and his car was also parked right next to the curb.

"It's frustrating," Roach said, noting that paint was "spit all over the bottom part of my car," including the rims and tires. "It's unfortunate."