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Pothole problems: Family wants reimbursement for auto damage

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - As the weather warms up the potholes are growing by the hour.

Some are so big they're causing serious damage to vehicles. So what do you do when it's too much to handle?

Newschannel 3 talked to a west Michigan family deep in pothole problems. The family says a pothole on Kalamazoo Ave. in Kalamazoo cost them hundreds of dollars. Trying to find out who is responsible hasn't been easy.

On Feb. 12, Jennifer Steinway and her family were traveling smoothly down the road in her Chevy Prism.

But little did they know that danger lurked over the railroad tracks.

I was like, oh my gosh, it's a pothole. I slammed on my breaks. It went across the whole road. It was huge. All four tires hit the pothole, Steinway says.
     
Driving away, the entire car shook.

We found that one of the wheel bearings had been knocked loose. All four wheels had bent rims and one of the tires had a flat place where it had hit the edge of the pavement, Steinway says.

The damage added up to $580.

Thats over their insurance deductible so the repairs had to come out of family funds.

A family with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, it's not easy, Steinway says.

The Steinways contacted the city of Kalamazoo to see if the repairs could be reimbursed.

They soon got a letter saying their claim had been denied.

What frustrated me is they didn't ask for information about the damages or the estimate, nothing like that, Steinway says.
 
Newschannel 3 called the city of Kalamazoo and got two possible explanations for the denial.

Kalamazoo Ave. is a state road, which would mean M-DOT is responsible.

But M-DOT said the city is responsible for maintaining the roads in city limits.

The city also said because the potholes are within several feet of the tracks Amtrak could be responsible.

Amtrak said it's looking into it.
     
To have an eligible claim it must be proven that a pothole hasn't been repaired, 30 days after the complaint.

And right now, Steinway isn't convinced the area has been fixed.

The pothole situation this year is horrendous. So Im sure there's a lot of people who are in the same situation, Steinway says.
    
The family is now trying to figure out what to do next and is considering getting their lawyer involved.