Anchorage sends MARAD to the docks


In an unusual turn of events, the Alaskan city of Anchorage has filed a federal law suit against the US Maritime Administration.

The announcement comes after the administration’s failure to complete a port expansion project.

In a complaint filed in the federal court on February 28th, the city of Anchorage has alleged that the US Maritime Administration, or MARAD, failed in its duty to correctly supervise the construction of the port, at a cost of hundreds of millions of US dollars.

Anchorage is also suing the management firm hired by the agency, as well as the two engineering firms contracted to the build.

Speaking to KTUU, Mayor Dan Sullivan (right) said “MARAD was responsible for the administration of the spending of that money and quite frankly as a customer, we don't feel that we've received the product that we should have received for that expenditure.”

MARAD was enlisted to manage the project in 2003. It was the first time the agency had attempted to manage a port expansion operation.

As such, Anchorage found that MARAD’s lack of experience and oversight resulted in a series of failures to correctly manage the project.

This includes a lack of action when contractors started running into problems with the driving of piles that were part of the new dock, alongside failure to force the project managers to fix this defective work.

The court claim goes as far as to say that only after filing a Freedom of Information claim, did Anchorage discover that MARAD had paid the project manager $11 million to settle a claim brought forward by the project management firm on behalf of the contractors.

Whilst the initial claim says that Anchorage has suffered at least $10,000 in damages (the minimum amount to make a claim at the federal courts), it is expected to be in the category of millions, given the $1.75 million contract the city signed with a litigation firm to handle the case.

Expansion work has effectively ground to a halt since 2009 after contractors ran into issues with the design of the new project.

It has since been discovered that due to its unconventional design, part of the build will have to be torn apart and re-built.

The project is expected to recommence in the coming months under the supervision of engineering firm CH2M HILL.

In a further twist to the proceedings, CH2M is being simultaneously sued by the city of Anchorage, after buying out the engineering firm, Veco, one of the two contractors associated with the original build.

It is understood that this unfortunate scenario will not affect the works going forward.

Sullivan continued to say that “I don't think any court would halt future construction or the preliminary construction work because it's too important to the economy of the entire state to stop that work.”

Anchorage originally secured $400 million in federal, state and local funds for the project, of which only $132 million remains unspent.

Due to the need for a complete redesign, it is expected that the works will not restart until at least 2016.

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