Friday, July 11, 2014

MARAD Seeks Dismissal of Port Lawsuit

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Maritime Administration is asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit against it regarding MARAD’s alleged mishandling of a project to expand the Port of Anchorage, Alaska.

The lawsuit was filed the city of Anchorage in February. In it, the city seeks monetary relief as a result of what it calls MARAD's breach of its contract regarding the expansion.

The port expansion project, which has been in the works for more than a decade, was overseen by MARAD until the US Army Corps of Engineers took control in May 2012. The expansion was originally estimated to cost $360 million and was supposed to be complete by 2011. Instead, cost estimates have jumped to about $1 billion and climbing, and completion isn’t expected for another decade.

According to a $2.2 million sustainability study that was conducted by engineering firm CH2M Hill on behalf of MARAD and the Army Corps of Engineers, three of four new sections built at the Port of Anchorage were not constructed correctly and due to shifting land, could fail during an earthquake.

The city claims MARAD didn’t live up to the contracts because it failed to deliver on its promise of providing “expertise to design, construct and oversee the design and construction of the project.”

In a dismissal motion filed June 27 with US Court of Federal Claims Judge Edward Damich however, MARAD contends that contracts it worked under on the Port of Anchorage construction project were cooperative agreements and don’t hold it liable for money lost on the project.

The city has also filed suit against project management, dock design and consultant companies previously involved with the expansion. That case, which was filed in March 2013, is ongoing in US District Court.