The Municipality of Anchorage announced on Monday that it is suing the Maritime Administration or MARAD, the federal agency that initially took on the Port of Anchorage expansion project. The city filed the lawsuit on Friday, Feb. 28 in the United States Court of Federal Claims.
The lawsuit alleges that MARAD mismanaged the port renovation it was tasked to oversee, leading to hundreds of millions of dollars wasted. The city is seeking monetary relief to recoup some of that expense.
"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," said Mayor Dan Sullivan.
He added that as there will be a "great deal" of analysis over what was spent and what work is still useable as the project moves forward. As a result, it's too early to estimate how much the municipality could receive.
MARAD did not return calls for comment on Monday.
A 2013 U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General report detailed cost overruns, faulty construction and a lack of oversight by the project manager. The audit claims the project's cost swelled from $211 million in 2003 to about $1 billion in 2011, and MARAD could not explain why.
In January, engineering firm CH2M HILL came on board as the new project manager. The firm is also being sued by the city over flawed work by Veco, a company CH2M HILL bought out.
Sullivan estimates a new port design should be ready in about eight to nine months. Current litigation is not expected to stall the troubled project any further.
"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," Sullivan said.
The city secured $400 million in federal, state and local funds for the renovation project. About $132 million remains unspent, according to the city. Sullivan said he is optimistic that there will be opportunities for the municipality to be granted federal funding for the project, but said it could be more difficult to get.