Roadwork leads to tar trouble for Land Park residents

The newly slurry sealed road surface, seen Saturday, on Vallejo Way off Freeport Boulevard near Land Park in Sacramento is causing problems for some residents’ cars.
The newly slurry sealed road surface, seen Saturday, on Vallejo Way off Freeport Boulevard near Land Park in Sacramento is causing problems for some residents’ cars.

Recent roadwork turned into tar trouble for several Land Park residents, who discovered their cars were splattered with sticky slurry seal after driving on Freeport Boulevard and Vallejo Way.

“I’ve never seen a road project like this,” said Stephanie Duncan, who lives on Freeport Boulevard. “Usually, when it’s finished, the street looks beautiful. But this is a mess.”

Duncan experienced the problem Tuesday when driving home in her Hyundai Tucson. Signs and barriers warning of roadwork had been removed and Freeport was open to traffic.

“It was already dark out,” Duncan said. “At 5:30, I drove down my road and it looked like it had just rained – it was so wet.”

The next morning, she could see black spots all over her Hyundai. Duncan, who serves on the Land Park Community Association board of directors, reached out to other residents via Facebook and

“So far, I’ve found 29 other people with tar on their cars,” she said. “I’m sure there are many more than that.”

Resident complaints prompted the city to stop work on the paving project, according to a statement released Saturday afternoon by the city of Sacramento.

“The City is working diligently to address the situation and apologizes for the inconvenience this has caused residents,” it read. “Our intention is to shut the slurry project down until the spring.”

But a few streets in Land Park are caught in the middle of a two-step paving process called cape seal.

“Currently, several streets in the Land Park neighborhood are in an interim state where only the initial work has been completed,” according to the city’s statement. “As residents have noted, these streets appear rough and contain loose gravel on the pavement. We need to complete the cape seal at these locations prior to shutting down for the winter. We anticipate completing these locations next week. After that, the only work that residents will be seeing will be the replacement of traffic striping.”

The work area is bordered roughly by Freeport and Riverside boulevards and Broadway and Vallejo Way.

“Some people who don’t even live in Land Park have no idea yet,” said Duncan, noting that Freeport is a busy route for downtown commuters.

The tar has proved hard to remove.

“I had tar all over my beautiful little white Honda,” said Sharon Ewbank, a Land Park resident. “I drove down Freeport (Tuesday night) and it sounded like slush. There were no warnings, no indication that the road was not dry … It was spooky to hear it slopping onto the bottom of my car.”

After an unsuccessful power wash, Ewbank resorted to elbow grease. “It took me about three hours,” she said. “I used Simple Green (cleaner) and scrubber pads. It didn’t come off easy.”

Aaron and Meghan Callahan, who live on Vallejo Way, spent nearly $500 to clean their two vehicles, a Ford F-150 truck and a Ford Explorer.

“It was all over the back of my car, even the top of my car,” Meghan Callahan said. “And it’s still not all off. It comes off the paint, but on the underside, it still sticks to the vinyl.”

Aaron Callahan complained to the city’s 311 hotline Tuesday night, then followed up with calls to the contractor, Valley Slurry Seal, and the city again Wednesday morning.

“I was told to send photos and get a claim form from VSS,” he said. “I was also told (by a city contact) to call the city to file a claim, so I’m not quite sure what we’re supposed to do.”

According to the city’s statement, vouchers will be coming soon. “For those residents who have been strongly impacted, the City’s contractors are providing residents, with valid claims, a voucher to have their cars cleaned,” it read.

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington