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Martell sues county over road damage

The Town of Martell has filed suit against Pierce County and its insurance company, asking for help repairing town roads damaged when county officers detoured traffic around an accident.

Gwen Kuchevar, the town's attorney, said Martell is asking for up to $80,000 to fix the blacktopped roads.

According to the complaint, on Jan. 27 there was a serious traffic accident near the intersection of Hwy. 63 and CTH N in the Town of Martell. One man died in the collision between a pickup and a semi-truck.

Sheriff's department officers directed all traffic from state Hwy. 63 onto 690th Avenue and 530th Street, both of which are Town of Martell roads.

According to the complaint, the decision to redirect traffic "for several hours created traffic counts and load of greater quantity and weight than (Martell's) roads could carry without buckling, causing damage to and destruction of significant areas" of the roads.

No one is saying deputies shouldn't have detoured traffic, said Kuchevar, although she said vehicles could have been sent over other roads.

"This is about responsibility after the damage occurred," said the attorney. She said town officials had hoped, and still hope, the county will take responsibility for the damage.

The town roads couldn't have been expected to handle the traffic that crossed them that day, said Kuchevar.

"They simply have different construction standards and a town road doesn't have to be built to carry the weight that a state road does."

Town officials say the county's agents at first said informally the county would either pay for or share the cost of the damage.

On April 10, town and county representatives met and the town presented an estimate for material and labor to fix the roads. Four days later, the county sent correspondence saying it has no legal obligation to repair town roads.

The complaint alleges the county's actions created a public nuisance on Martell roads and the county is responsible for repairing or replacing the roads.