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Company denies road work damaged home

HOPKINTON — It’s been two months since Ken Melbourne says his home was damaged during road work on Route 216, and after spending nearly $9,000 on repairs, he is not optimistic about receiving compensation.

Melbourne asserts that the failure of his well and the new cracks in his foundation were caused by vibrations from the heavy machinery used to remove old pavement from the busy road that runs past his house at 230 Ashaway Road.

The work on the $2.2 million Rhode Island Department of Transportation project was performed in August by the Cardi Corp. of Warwick.

After receiving Melbourne’s initial complaint, Cardi installed seismic sensors at his home and determined its equipment was not to blame for the damage.

Melbourne said the sensors were installed only after the heavy machinery had departed and therefore had not recorded the worst vibrations.

“They were all done,” he said.

Melbourne’s next communication from Cardi was a letter dated Sept. 3 from Larry Dozier, the safety director, denying company responsibility for the damage.

“Based on all information reviewed to date, Cardi Corporation has determined that the construction operation activities on the Route 216 project would not have caused the damage brought forward in your Aug. 29 letter,” Dozier wrote.

When contacted regarding further action on Melbourne’s complaint, Dozier declined to discuss the matter. “I have no comment,” he said.

Melbourne said his well had operated for 32 years without problems before the road construction began. After it failed, he claims, he and his family were without clean drinking water for more than a month.

After re-mortgaging his house to pay for the repairs, which included $6,600 for drilling a new well, Melbourne said he decided not to file an insurance claim because he was worried his premiums might increase.

Instead, he began writing to everyone he could think of who might be able to help.

“So far, nothing has been done to compensate me for my damage or assist in the ongoing problem, which included no drinking water for myself and my family, and other inconveniences,” he wrote. “It is apparent that Cardi is not taking responsibility for this or doing anything to assist or compensate me. I am therefore asking for your immediate assistance in rectifying this problem.”

Letters to the governor; Michael Lewis, director of the state Department of Transportation; Stephen Cardi II of the Cardi Corp.; state Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy; and Sen. Catherine Cool Rumsey failed to produce results.

Chafee and Cool Rumsey have yet to respond, and Kennedy said Lewis told him there was nothing the state could do to assist Melbourne because a contractor, not the state, had done the work.

“There really wasn’t anything they were going to do about it,” Kennedy said. “When I spoke with Mr. Melbourne, I told him he still has a legal avenue available to him if he decides he wants to hire an attorney to bring a claim against the contractor. ... I said to him, ‘If the attorney feels that you’ve got a good enough case there and you’ve got that evidence it’s possible that the contractor would be willing to do a settlement with you.’ ”

RIDOT did not respond to a request for comment.

Melbourne said the experience has left him feeling “totally helpless.” He is now reluctantly considering hiring a lawyer.

“I was kind of hoping our representatives, that they would do something, but it seems like they just say ‘I tried, sorry I can’t do anything. I talked to them.’ It seems like there was no pressure at all. Just going through the motions,” he said. “My only recourse is to contact a lawyer, which I plan on doing. The problem is, I’m just a normal person and don’t have money lying around for lawyers.”

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