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Falling 'L-juice' vexes drivers who park under CTA tracks, but CTA says it's not responsible

Drivers say parking under CTA tracks is leaving their cars covered with 'L-juice' 03:15

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A mystery liquid substance is falling from CTA tracks all over the city – and now some neighbors say what they call "L-juice" is damaging their cars.

But as CBS 2's Marissa Perlman reported Tuesday night, the Chicago Transit Authority said there is a reason why it's not responsible for the issue.

The CTA says the substance is creosote – a substance derived from the distillation of tar – which is used to preserve wooden railroad ties. But in warm weather, it can drip down.

The greasy oil has been spotted on the ground, and on trash cans. And for years now, some neighbors say it has been falling like rain onto their cars parked underneath the tracks – and damaging them.

"Now my car just is covered in grease – it's gross!" said Krista Soos.

She found her car littered with the tarlike substance one morning before work.

"It was just covered," Soos said.

Soos has been parking under the Red Line 'L' tracks on Waveland Avenue at Sheffield Avenue, steps from Wrigley Field. The spaces where she has been parking are zoned street parking for which she shells out $150 annually.

There are panels to protect pedestrians, but nothing for parked cars. At first, Soos thought the substance that ended up on her car was a reflection of her own negligence.

But then she thought: "There should have been signs. There should have been warnings."

And she is not alone. Some neighbors who park under the 'L' have tents to catch the gunk before it falls on their car.

But that wasn't enough for fellow Wrigleyville resident Nick Kosmalski.

"At first, yeah, then it was like, OK, let me get a car cover," Kosmalski said, "and then it was starting to go through the car cover."

Kosmalski said his landlord assigned him a spot directly underneath the Red Line tracks.

The CTA said the area where he parks is part of the Under 'L' Parking program – and tenants are warned about the "L-juice."

Kosmalski said he wasn't warned – but he knew it could be risky.

"At this point, look at it – I mean, it's just going to keep getting worse," he said.

And getting the "L-juice" off a car isn't easy – you're likely going to have to take your car to a detail shop. Soap and water isn't likely to do the job.

"If you let it sit, it can eat through your clear coat," said Vladimir Gurkut, founder of the detail shop Carrectly.

Gurkut said he gets calls for help from city residents with the same damage at least once a week. He shared some photos of just some of the removal jobs he's done.

"It probably affects thousands of people per year," Gurkut said.

And the cost is anywhere from a couple hundred to thousands of dollars to fix. Soos and Kosmalski now question why the CTA and the city are selling parking spots that aren't safe.

"It'd be nice if they fixed it, of course, but…" Kosmalski said, before the Red Line train overhead drowned him out while he looked at the streaks of 'L'-juice on his white Dodge Dart.

The CTA gets paid for the spots right under the 'L' tracks in 2003. Those leases generated more than $320,000 for the CTA.

But the CTA says neither they nor the property owners are liable for damage from spots from the Under 'L' Parking program.

But Soos parked on the street under the tracks. We reached out to the CTA about her situation and were told if she submits one, they will investigate her claim.

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