State consultant admits to causing hole in Belcher Road, agrees to pay bill

Better Call Behnken

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Katherine Germano finally has results.

More than a month after she ran over a mysterious man-made hole in Belcher Road, the company who cut the hole has agreed to pay for the damage it caused to her Volkswagen Beetle. 

Germano had just turned onto Belcher Road from Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard when she heard a loud bang. She didn’t see the hole and had no warning. 

A Better Call Behnken investigation highlighted the $1,000 in damage the hole caused to her car. 

The road is owned by Pinellas County, but the county and the city of Clearwater kept blaming each other for the hole and no one would pay for the damage. 

The county fixed the hole as soon as Germano told them about it, but didn’t know who was responsible. It’s the kind of hole a worker might dig to make repairs to utilities under a roadway.

Two weeks after we contacted the county, they figured out who caused the hole. 

Clearwater company Cumbey & Fair, a consultant for FDOT, cut the hole in 2016 to locate a county water line. They failed to pull a permit, and the work was never inspected by the county.  

Recently, that patch failed and then Germano ran over it. The county fixed the hole, but wouldn’t pay to fix her car. 

The county sent this statement: 

Following a damage claim made by Ms. Germano, Pinellas County started an investigation to determine where the hole originated. The county determined the following information:  

  • A cut in the road was performed by a Florida Department of Transportation Consultant (Cumbey & Fair) in early 2016 as part of a project to add a westbound right turn lane at the intersection of SR 60 & Belcher.
  • This cut was made to locate a county water line, according to the consultant.
  • The work was done without obtaining a county right-of-way use permit; the consultant advised they assumed a County permit was not required. The county reminded the consultant of the necessity for obtaining a permit for all right-of-way work.
  • Based on the photos and Google Images, there is nothing to suggest that the repair to the original cut was performed improperly.

 Tim Bourne of Cumbey & Fair tells 8 On Your Side he had no idea this was going on until our investigation. Now that he knows, he says he’ll pay for the damage. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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