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Sticker shock: Caltrans bills family $970 to replace road sign

Posted at 3:15 PM, Aug 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-08 21:16:45-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Eighteen-year-old Joseph Preissman is getting ready for his very first day as a college student. But a mistake he made last December is dragging down his final days of summer.

"It'd be really great to just figure out why we're getting charged so much for something so little, and something that was, like, an accident," he said.

The accident happened near Idyllwild.

Preissman and a friend were returning from a hiking trip, when he said it hailed. Preissman was coming around a bend and lost control of his car, running into a freeway directional sign and splitting its wooden post.

Nobody was hurt, so Preissman thought the accident was ancient history. That is, until July 31, when the Preissman family got a bill from Caltrans to replace the sign - totaling $977.95. All but about $40 of that bill was for labor.

"I could even understand half that cost, but I can't understand how it could possibly take three people, let's say from 8 in the morning to 12 in the afternoon, to repair that sign," said Daniel Preissman, Joseph's father.

Caltrans spokeswoman Emily Leinen stood behind the bill.

She said about $400 of it went to administrative fees. Much of the rest reimbursed the crews for going out to the area and replacing the 16-foot-tall post. They had to make sure it had the proper breaking points for driver safety.

Leinen added one crew member had to keep watch for other cars coming around the bend.

"It's rocky road terrain out there, it’s a mountain, so unfortunately they had to do everything by hand on a blind corner," Leinen said.

Caltrans did offer the Preissman's a 10% discount and a payment plan, but Daniel Preissman said even with that the bill is excessive.