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Paving Produces Sticky Problem For Johnston County Drivers

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JOHNSTON COUNTY — A smooth drive over new asphalt turned sticky for thousands of Johnston County drivers when they discovered tar under the bottom of their cars. A contractor for theDepartment of Transportationaccepts responsibility for the problem, and has even offered a solution for fixing it. But who will pay?

When Hurricane Bonnie brought rain and high winds to North Carolina last month, it soaked the roads. A contractor for the DOT says the rain mixed with paving chemicals to create the problem.

The underside of Barbara Murphy's car was covered with tar after she drove along a freshly-paved section of US 301. Slurry Pavers, and its insurance company, is willing to pay for repairs or cleaning done at D&T Detailers in Selma. But Murphy says that's not enough.

"I decided I'm going to have it fixed the way I want to, since it's my car," Murphy said. "I'm not going to let them decide who works on my car."

Other car owners agreed. The group wants to get estimates from other auto detail shops.

They've expressed their concerns in a letter to the North Carolina Insurance Commissioner. A spokesperson for the commissioner says Murphy does have a right to have her car cleaned where she wants, but the insurance company may not pay.

"If the insurance company is saying it's going to cost this amount and where you're going for a body shop is higher than that, the insurance company may say, 'We're only going to pay this set amount and you're going to have to pay the difference,'" warned Jennifer Gullette.

TheDepartment of Insurancesays anyone who encounters a problem with a claim can call the Consumer Services Division at800-546-5664.