August 28, 2014
Drivers headed west on Highway 19 near Northfield, Minnesota, found an unpleasant surprise on their vehicles. Commuters saw signs warning of road construction, but didn’t think anything of it until they exited their vehicles after reaching their destination. That’s when they found their vehicles covered in oil and grime.
It was the result of a simple sealcoating project gone horribly wrong. A surprise rain storm prevented the resurfacing substance from bonding with the gravel and caused it to instead bond to vehicles.
Minnesota Department of Transportation Public Affairs Coordinator Mike Dougherty explained that the oil mixture used for sealcoating is supposed to bond with the gravel and road surface as it dries, but if water is added, the oil isn’t able to dry. Since it rained, the mixture didn’t dry but splashed onto vehicles instead.
“[The storm] was an unanticipated issue,” Dougherty said. “The rain was the component that made this go incorrectly.”
Dozens of drivers were reportedly affected before State Patrol was able to reroute traffic from the area.
MnDOT is holding contractor, Astech Corp. out of St. Joseph, Minnesota, responsible for the damage. MnDOT has said it received hundreds of calls from angry drivers who are having a difficult time cleaning the resurfacing mixture off their vehicles. Many drivers who were affected have been forced to reach out to local auto centers that claim to have a solution to restore vehicles back to their original state.