Family fed up with freeway project, NDOT
Appeal Staff Writer
A Carson City family said frustration with ongoing problems caused by freeway construction led them to file a $10 million claim against the state.
“We thought, ‘maybe this will get their attention,'” said resident Tammy Lubich.
During the New Year’s weekend floods, the Lubiches, who live in the 1000 block of Mark Way, said they received an estimated $100,000 damage to their property as a result of water flowing from land behind them owned by the Nevada Department of Transportation.
The NDOT land has been used for about a year to store dirt being moved around as part of the ongoing freeway project. Lubich said her home needs to be dusted daily to keep the air inside relatively breathable.
The view from their property is obstructed by mounds of dirt and, “our quality of life has gone to hell here,” she said.
Further complicating matters for the Lubiches is that NDOT now claims as its own an 8-foot wide and roughly 165-feet long strip running along the edge of the family’s back yard. Officials sent a letter to the Lubiches in late May ordering them to vacate that strip of land.
The family filed a second complaint, also with the attorney general, asking for $10,000. They would have to move their fence and possibly their septic system if the state finds in NDOT’s favor regarding possession of the strip, she said.
State and city officials agree that placement of dirt caused the flooding because the drainage flow was blocked. The dirt is being placed on the NDOT land and on a larger private site that together surround two sides of the Lubiches’ property.
Ames Construction, the primary contractor for the freeway project, is placing and moving the dirt around both locations, though the owner of the private land, Don Langson, is paying Ames to make the ground more level for potential development, according to the city.
The city and state have been looking at the sites and trying to determine how the water ended up damaging the Lubiches’ and other neighbors’ properties. Blame points in a variety of directions, though there were problems with dirt placement at both locations that diverted the water and caused it to pool and make its way into the back yards of Mark Way homes.
“We have spent hours and hours responding to their damage,” said NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder. “And we will continue to work on the drainage problem, if necessary.”
He expects the land ownership dispute to be resolved within the next few weeks, he said.
The city’s Development Services Division has been examining the site for about two months and reported there are still sections of the drainage systems on both sites that appear to need more work before the next rainy season.
“We haven’t signed off on the work yet,” City Manager Linda Ritter said.
Ritter and other officials also pointed to the matter of the weather itself: Several inches of rain in less than 24 hours.
The Lubiches haven’t received any money to replace or repair anything. Because the damage occurred outside of the family’s main living area and occurred outside a flood plain, there will be no insurance settlement. And Federal Emergency Management Agency money isn’t available because water didn’t reach the house itself, Lubich said.
They haven’t been able to find an attorney to take their case, either. The amount of damage isn’t substantial enough, the family has been told.
The Lubiches also said their back yard fence was damaged over the weekend, apparently by an Ames Construction vehicle. The family filed a police report Tuesday to document the incident, Lubich said.
Andy Anderson, a regional safety manager for Ames Construction based in Salt Lake City, had no comment about the flooding or the damage to the fence. Magruder said the damage was accidental.
“We weren’t against the freeway, but we didn’t expect the problems we’ve had,” Lubich said.
John Lubich, Tammy’s husband, works for NDOT, and didn’t want to comment about the matter. They had hoped John could retire in a couple of years but, because of financial problems stemming from the damages they have incurred, this might not happen, she said.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.