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Contractor, Economy Boro Family In Dispute Over Collapsing Driveway

ECONOMY BOROUGH (KDKA) -- There are only two ways to get to the Martelli's home in Economy Borough these days.

The long, slick walk in the snow, or the self-described treacherous drive along the edge of a collapsing driveway.

Patty Martelli: "I will not drive down here, no."

KDKA's Marty Griffin: "Why?"

Patty: "Because I'm afraid of going over that hillside."

The scope of the damage is large. Once there was a solid ground, but now there's nothing but a valley and hundreds of tons of dirt and mess.

Over the summer the Martellis took photos of the mess. They paid a local contract $20,000 to build the road, but they say it started cracking in about three months and was gone in less than a year.

Unable to get it fixed, Patty Martelli admits she snapped last summer.

Patty: "Chained myself to his pole down [at] his building."

Griffin: "Why?"

Patty: "Because I thought that would get some attention and maybe he would come up and fix it."

Griffin: "And did he?"

Patty: "No, he called the police."

Griffin: "And they didn't care?"

Patty: "No."

Don Lang is an excavator with a good reputation. He did the work.

He refused to talk to KDKA and accused Griffin of stalking him. But then invited Griffin to get into his truck and we drove around for an hour, listening to his side of the story.

He told us pretty much what he told the Attorney General's Office.

The Martellis "did not have topographic or engineered drawings to work from." Lang says he told the family, "whatever work we did could slide."

He says, "I contend that the work on the site was done properly."

He added, "None of the issues were under my control."

"I want to be in my house, this is our dream house," said Tom Martelli. "I want to be back in my house and have dinner again, like we used to."

The road is so risky; the Martellis moved out of their home and have been living with family nearby for months now.

Late Thursday, attorney Jon Perry sent a letter to Lang asking him to "repair your defective work utilizing your company." If not "we will sue you for the $20,000 already paid and maybe $20,000 more to finish the job."

"What would resolve it?" said Patty. "If I could drive my truck down to my house."

Lang tells Griffin he feels badly about what happened and wants to work it out. He says he is willing to bring his equipment to the property and do several days of work himself.

If you'd like Marty to help you solve your problem, email him at

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