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Vehicles damaged by I-15 debris after lane changes on highway, drivers say

Posted: 6:47 PM, May 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-06 21:57:07-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Drivers traveling on Interstate 15 on Monday were greeted by thousands of tiny chunks of asphalt pinging off their car windows and paint.

Many described the sound of the asphalt hail like "Pop Rocks candy," but Monday's sound could cost a lot more than a bag of candy.

Driver Craig Smith told 13 Action News that he was left with several hundred dollars worth of paint chips on his 2018 Dodge Charger after driving his Uber passenger on the I-15 Friday evening.

"Ding here from one of the rocks," Smith said, pointing at a paint chip on the right quarter panel, "It's a brand new car. This one over here, a couple on the windshield."

Smith said the ride will set him back when it comes to repairs, but it was also a scary drive.

"Is one of those things coming through my window?" he asked. "If I have a passenger in the car - I wouldn't know what to do."

The debris was left over from recent work by the Nevada Department of Transportation that consisted of changing two express lanes on the highway into an HOV lane.

And with removing the one lane, crews had to grind away a thin section of the road in preparation for repaving.

The department removed the southbound lane late last week and removed the northbound lane early Monday morning, according to NDOT.

"We have two sweepers that follow the equipment," NDOT spokesperson Adrienne Packer said.

She also said the grinders took such a thin section of asphalt off the road that the sweepers couldn't pick up the debris.

"It leaves this sand-like material that the sweepers just can't pick up," Packer said.

The debris field will typically disappear within a day, but until that has happened, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka urged drivers to use caution.

Smaka said fine asphalt, like gravel, can reduce a car's traction on the roadways at highway speeds.

"Just like any other condition that can be unsafe," he said. "The best thing is to slow down."

Packer said NDOT can help with repair bills if drivers can prove the asphalt caused the damage to their cars.

If your car was damaged by debris kicked up on I-15, Packer said to call the Project Neon hotline at 702-293-NEON (6366), and the department will send a claim form.

Packer then said the Attorney General's office would investigate to ensure that the freeway debris indeed caused the damage before approving the claim.