Construction Dive reached out to Skanska for a response to the lawsuits, but a spokesperson said the company does not comment on matters of existing or pending litigation.
After the property damage caused by the barges became apparent, Skanska told Construction Dive that it based its pre-storm preparation on the information it had at the time about the path of the hurricane. Sally’s shift toward Pensacola, it said, was unexpected.
The businesses suing Skanska are seeking damages of more than $30,000 each, not including attorney’s fees, and include a flower shop, clothing boutique, liquor store and two restaurants. They are represented by the law firm of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, which said it represents “hundreds of individuals and businesses” in the Pensacola area with claims against Skanska and expects to file more lawsuits against the company.
Escambia County, Florida, is also looking for Skanska to reimburse it for costs associated with the runaway barges, according to the Pensacola News Journal. County officials reportedly said they are in negotiations with the general contractor and would want at least $15 million to rebuild a demolished fishing pier plus additional personnel costs related to the bridge closure.
While the bridge is being repaired and barges continue to be removed, the FDOT has rerouted traffic flow to the nearby Garcon Point Bridge, which collects tolls. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended toll collection on the bridge until Nov 13. If the owner of the privately owned bridge looks to the FDOT for reimbursement of two months of tolls, the department said it will seek those amounts from Skanska.
As for the bridge itself, some sections are in need of repair and others will need to be replaced before it can reopen to traffic. In its latest update, the FDOT said the bridge should reopen sometime in early March.
Author: Kim Slowey