Municipality to go after MARAD over port


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The Municipality of Anchorage is broadening the reach of litigation to include the federal government among the defendants in the ongoing port expansion drama.

An announcement Monday morning from municipal spokeswoman Lindsey Whitt stated Mayor Dan Sullivan would hold a press conference from City Hall at 11:30 a.m., March 3 to discuss his administration’s decision to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Maritime Administration, or MARAD.

The U.S. Department of Transportation agency was in charge of managing the construction project at the city’s port when cost overruns and questions about construction and design techniques brought the critical infrastructure project started in 2003 to a halt in 2010. No significant work has been done on the port in nearly four years.

In a Feb. 18 presentation to the Alaska Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee, Sullivan referenced an August 2013 Inspector General’s audit of MARAD’s involvement in port projects in Guam and Hawaii as well as Anchorage.

“Essentially, (the IG audit) said MARAD failed in every single aspect of their project management duties,” at Anchorage, he said.

The municipality is currently seeking damages from project designer PND Engineers; CH2M Hill, owner of former port design consultant VECO Corp.; and Integrated Concepts and Research Corp., hired by MARAD to oversee the project for the agency.

Sullivan told state lawmakers that he thought that the likelihood of the project receiving federal funding similar to past levels going forward — $138.6 million over nine years — is “very slim,” he said.

Overall, $439 million in combined funding has been appropriated to the project that started with an estimated cost of less than $300 million in 2003.

During his Feb. 18 report to the Legislature, the Anchorage mayor said it would probably need another $250 million to $300 million in addition to the roughly $130 million the municipality has set aside for work now.

He also may have hinted that action against MARAD was being planned.

“We are not going to go quietly into that good night when it comes to legal options with MARAD,” Sullivan said at the time.

On Feb. 25 the Anchorage Assembly approved CH2M Hill as a project manager for the port on an initial five-year, $30 million fee-for-service contract.

 

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at elwood.brehmer@alaskajournal.com.

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