Who Pays For Damage From Parkway Sinkhole? [VIDEO]
Eighteen cars were damaged as they were the first to discover a huge sinkhole on a dark Driscoll Bridge on the Garden State Parkway Thursday morning. Who pays for the damage?
It depends on who you ask.
Some of those whose cars suffered flat tires, broken rims and bent axles after they hit the sinkhole told New Jersey 101.5's Jeff Deminski & Bill Doyle they were told by the Turnpike Authority the agency was not responsible because no one had reported the sinkhole before they hit it.
New Jersey Turnpike spokesman Tom Feeney in an email to Townsquare Media NJ wrote, "the Turnpike Authority handles claims related to issues on the Turnpike and Parkway. Anyone who has a claim related to the sink hole should call 732-750-5300, ext 8714, to request a notice of claim." They are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
As for the Turnpike's responsibility, Feeney said once a notice of claim form is completed, "our third-party claims administrator reviews the forms and determines whether the Turnpike Authority will make a payment to cover any costs not covered by the vehicle owner’s own insurance. The question of whether the Authority is obligated to do that is exactly what the claims administrators determine when the forms are filed."
Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Greeley confirmed that the Turnpike Authority is the sole agency handling claims.
According to the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, the state may not have any responsibility.
"The Legislature recognizes that while a private entrepreneur may readily be held liable for negligence within the chosen ambit of his activity, the area within which government has the power to act for the public good is almost without limit and therefore government should not have the duty to do everything that might be done. Consequently, it is hereby declared to be the public policy of this State that public entities shall only be liable for their negligence within the limitations of this act and in accordance with the fair and uniform principles established herein. All of the provisions of this act should be construed with a view to carry out the above legislative declaration.
It Took All Day To Make Repairs
New Jersey Turnpike spokesman Tom Feeney told the Star-Ledger a 15-inch drain pipe under the roadway pulled apart. "Then the earth filled the void where the pipe separated and it weakened the road surface above it," he explained.
The 10-foot wide, 6-foot long sinkhole opened up in the right lane on the southbound side around 6:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. Two lanes were blocked for much of the day as crews worked to fill the hole and determine the cause.
All lanes were reopened just before 5:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon but not before traffic stretched back to Clark at one point.
Work crews will make a more permanent repair soon meaning more lane closures at night or on the weekend.