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State apologizes for damage to homes along I-270

Tuesday - 2/18/2014, 12:49pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Maryland highway officials apologized Tuesday after several people living along Interstate 270 in Rockville and Germantown reported their windows were broken late last week by ice and rocks that apparently came over the highway's 20-foot tall sound barrier.

"This is not normal, it's not acceptable, and we believe it was a contractor using a snow thrower, so for anybody who's had damages to their home or property, they can file a claim to get reimbursed," says Valerie Burnette Edgar with the State Highway Administration.

These types of insurance claims are handled through the Maryland State Treasurer's Office, using a "Notice of Claim" form.

Homeowners with damage can also call the Treasurer's Office at 800-942-0162.

"If it is indeed, we believe, our contractor, the state will seek to get the damages covered by the contractor," Burnette Edgar says.

About 70 percent of SHA snow-removal workers are part of contract crews who go through much of the same training that state employees do.

"We're also going to take a look at what happened, and make sure we work with the contractor and make sure it doesn't happen again," she says.

Normally, Burnette Edgar says extra snow would be pushed onto wide shoulders, space between the highway and ramps or other spaces, but the overwhelming amount of snow led to the use of snow blowers to keep the pavement clear for drivers.

"Snow piled up in a big mound on the side of the road is a hazard, so they needed to get that off the shoulders and out of the way, particularly on a high-speed interstate. It's obviously not acceptable to have it go into a residential area like that, and we truly regret and apologize for that inconvenience and problem for the residents," she says.

In Rockville, Mary Plummer said it sounded like an avalanche.

In Germantown, Joseph Belcher and his wife Kristi say their 3-year-old son was right next to a window when the rocks came flying.

Burnette Edgar says SHA is not aware of any similar reports of issues on any other interstates or other state roads during the recent storms.

"Thus far, it seems to be an isolated incident along I-270. Every storm where we get a lot of accumulation, there's some mailboxes and things like that that we have to repair, and we just ask for patience, and that you please file a claim with us," she says.

Some of those smaller claims can be submitted through the SHA's own online form. But that is not considered valid notice to the state for anyone who may be interested in filing an insurance claim through the Treasurer's Office.

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