I-Team Report: Street creep, who's responsible?

Published: Jul. 31, 2014 at 11:05 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2014 at 6:00 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Street creep occurs when a concrete street expands and contracts in different temperatures and actually moves.

One Cape Girardeau couple said it is happening in front of their home and costing them thousands of dollars in damage.

Beverly and Randy Powless moved into their Cape Girardeau home right after it was built, 20 years ago.

They do what they can to keep up with the little repairs that go along with owning a home.

But they had no idea the biggest threat to their house may be sittings right at the edge of their driveway.

"The street it's up against the curb," Randy Powless said.

Think of street creep like a high flowing river. Force from the water will push against the bank and and eventually will erode it away. That's similar to what is happening outside the Powless' home. Over time as the concrete road contracts and expands, the couple says it's moving and pushing their driveway into their foundation.

And so far, repairs have not come cheap.

"It's probably six to eight thousand," said Beverly.

The question is who should pick up the bill?

It's a city maintained street, affecting privately owned property, built by an outside company.

We went to city hall looking for answers.

"Sometimes it's hard to determine," said city manager Scott Meyer.

Meyer said the answer is not always that simple.

"We look at all of them on an individual basis," Meyer said. "We have that task. We balance whether tax payers should be responsible for fixing problems as a result of what a home owner or developer did versus our liability."

City ordinances now mandate contractors use expansion joints when connecting concrete driveways to city streets.

But those laws haven't always been on the books.

"Back then, their plan was to show up and get it done," said Tony Tucker, manager of 3 Sons Construction. "There wasn't really any codes to go by."

Tucker worked on the Powless' driveway trying cut out a portion to relieve some of the stress.

"Something's causing that driveway to push and it's the road," said Tucker.

This isn't just an issue in Cape Girardeau.

Two Missouri court cases attempted to tackle the issue of street creep liability.

One, from 1996, ruled in favor of the city, the other, in 2012 went in favor of the homeowner.

"It's moving, ain't no doubt in my mind," said Randy Powless

The Powless' say they've been fighting the city on the issue for years.

Since homeowners are legally not allowed to alter city streets, they say their hands are tied.

"There's not a lot of us but we're stuck," said Powless

Scott Meyer with the city says he does not receive many complaints of street creep each year.

He said if you think it may be happening in your home to contact city engineers.

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