Small-business owner claims cement, epoxy falling from Bayonne Bridge is doing serious damage

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Arthur Santopietro and his family have owned Leonardo's Auto Body for 40 years, but ever since construction ramped up on the Bayonne Bridge about a year ago, he says it's been raining down problems on his business.

"I actually had customers run out, employees quit, between the dust and the noise," Santopietro said.

Santopietro's shop is directly below the bridge on the Staten Island side. Construction on the bridge began in 2013 to raise the roadway to make room for larger cargo ships.

Santopietro said that within the last year, some type of a debris -- whether it be concrete dust or an epoxy -- is doing serious damage to the cars on his lot. He claims to have repainted 52 cars because that is the only way to repair the damage.

"Everytime you rub it, you rub it off, even if you wash it, it still sticks on to the paint. We've been trying to get it out," he said. "The glue is even worse, it goes right down to the metal, whatever epoxy is coming down."

He estimates it has cost him millions, between the overtime hours, lost business and paint jobs. He said  each paint job costs about $7,000 to $12,000, depending on the car.

Furthermore, he runs a glass business out of the same building. But neighboring heavy construction is apparently no friend to this fragile business.

"On the other side of this wall is where they’re drilling," he said, pointing to the back wall of his glass shop.

Propped up on the same wall is a rack for holding panes of glass. Santopietro provided pictures that show shards all over the floor. He said that when the drilling gets intense, it can rattle the glass right off the wall.

"It’s been a devastating thing on our business," Santopietro said.

He said he's reported all these problems to the Port Authority, but he feels the claims have fallen on deaf ears.

PIX11 contacted the agency Monday and the Port Authority responded by stating that while these claims may date back to August of last year, the Port Authority was only made aware of the problems in June, so a response is going to take some time.

Santopietro said he wants action.

"They keep telling us they’re processing it. They’re working it," Santopietro said. "I just don’t see no results."