Municipality Sues Feds for Port Damages

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage.
Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage.

The Municipality of Anchorage is suing a federal agency over problems with a port expansion project. This is the second lawsuit that the administration of Mayor Dan Sullivan has initiated to try to recover funds spent on the troubled port project.

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The city has invested around $300 million so far and hope to get some of that money back. They’re suing The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, or MARAD, which managed the original port expansion project, for damages. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan made the announcement at city hall Monday.

“To date we’ve raised, through both federal, local and state sources, over $400 million for the project. And MARAD was responsible for the administration, of the spending of that money,” Sullivan said. “And, quite frankly, we don’t feel that as a customer that we received the product that we should have received for that expenditure.”

Problems arose in 2009, when the “open-cell sheet pile” design crumpled and separated during construction. The Sullivan administration has led the push to get the Municipality reimbursed. The Municipality is also suing engineering firm CH2M Hill which purchased the now defunct Veco Corporation. Veco was involved in the original work that had problems. Last week the Anchorage Assembly awarded CH2M Hill a 30-million dollar contract to manage the new port project. CH2M Hill assured municipal officials that nobody who worked on the first project would be involved in the new one. Sullivan says the port project is poised to move ahead.29-port-of-anchorage

“We will start working on updating permits,” Sullivan said. “Certainly working on a new final design for the port, so we’re going to continue moving forward while this action happens in court and so we want to make sure we don’t loose momentum on making sure that over the next number of months that we develop a really solid plan, we’ve got a good team onboard and we’re remaining committed that we’re gonna – that we’ve got this back on track.”

Design and and engineering work is anticipated to take 18-months to two years with construction likely starting in 2016.

The Port of Anchorage provides an estimated 90 percent of the merchandise goods for 85 percent of Alaska’s populated area and is the major point of entry for container cargo and fuel for Joint-Base Elmendorf Richarson and Ted Stevens International Airport.