Current Events: Skanska Hits Sunshine

Nice thing about Sunshine Laws and Freedom of Information Acts. They give you a chance to find out officially when someone’s been very, very naughty.

Our local news reporters have apparently been pretty motivated to find out exactly what went down that Skanska didn’t have the barges secured at the 3-Mile Bridge. Having to add an extra hour and a half to your commute every day will tend to do that. It’s taken them weeks and several separate FOIA requests pestering Skanska and FDOT, but they finally got hold of not just Skanska’s contract for the 3-Mile Bridge, but the specific 10-page plan Skanska had to submit for how they would deal with hurricanes.

Among other things included in that plan?

A marine overseer was supposed to be there every time a barge was secured.

The barges were supposed to be moved 10 miles from the bridge to a specific sheltered bay if winds were predicted to get past 58 MPH.

And most telling of all, Skanska was supposed to need no more than 30 hours to get the barges secured in that bay. Not “five days”, as the representative tried to claim to all and sundry. Thirty hours.

…We knew Sandy was going to put tropical storm force winds on this spot at least two days in advance.

Is anyone surprised that Skanska apparently didn’t follow their own hurricane plan? The mandatory plan they had to have for FDOT to even consider their bid, years back? The one that would have kept the bridge in one piece? Anyone?

FDOT did not comment to the news on Skanska following the plan, or not. FDOT did send a message to Skanska that they are halting all daily payments on the bridge as of the date it was damaged, and have no plans to pay until the bridge is functional again. That’s $35 K a day Skanska is losing, and we haven’t even gotten to the whole, “And we want you to pay the Garcon Bridge tolls, too.”

How much money would it have cost them to keep their word? To keep to their contract? Did they really think the shortcuts were worth it? Were they negligent, careless – or just ruthlessly playing the odds that in over five years of working on the bridge we wouldn’t have a serious storm?

I don’t know if we’ll ever find out. But maritime law or no, if they didn’t hold to their own contract, I hope the courts give them hell.

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11 thoughts on “Current Events: Skanska Hits Sunshine

  1. Granted that y’all are in the panhandle, seems like a dumb bet that, working in the state that can get multiple tropical+ storms a year, they wouldn’t see anything in their area for five.

    If I were to wager, I’d say that someone with a shiny new business degree and no practical experience got put in charge. That, or someone’s relative.

    -Albert

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Point.

      I’m a little short on sleep, and a little ways out from having some problems.

      I’d forgotten how those domestic sorts can be. I think I would forget anything I don’t have a reminder right in front of me…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. There are probably better terms for this…

    There is more than one school of thought wrt contracts.

    There are definitely untrustworthy scumbag schools of thought within US culture.

    But, remember what CP Schofield, IIRC, says about the standards of practice wrt contracts within Chinese culture?

    If true, couldn’t it fit the description? Be interesting to look into Skanska’s ownership, and changes etc over a timeline.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. *nod*

      Did they get someone who thought this was a Chinese style “we check what we actually want done” contract? Or a Mexico-and-heck-just-huge-list style “we can bribe out of enforcement if anything goes wrong” type contract? Something else?

      Did they have a reason to believe this was the case?

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Unfortunately, there has long been an attitude growing in many businesses/industries, that regulations and contractual obligations only matter so far as someone can hold them accountable/force
    compliance. And even then, the strategy often becomes using/forcing the matter to come to litigation as a tactic to try delay, or reduce the costs of damages or mitigation. Often no matter how obvious
    the matter seems.

    Of course, even if the defendant/offender is forced to comply/make restitution, the mantra immediately becomes just how much regulations and oversight interfere with “doing business”, and “honest businessmen/companies/corporations” shouldn’t have to jump through all these hoops, because obviously everyone always acts ethically and responsibly.

    That grand german example of a botched major construction project, the new Berlin International Airport “Willy Brandt” is finally set to open (without fanafare) on Oct 31, amazingly enough. Eight years and change after the first grand opening was aborted just days before the original official start of operations… The necessity of which was also only admitted to by the project management those scant days before, all the while air traffic control and the airlines had been in the process of preparing to move equipment and personnel as much as possible from Tegel Airport, with the last push to take place the night Tegel shut down, and BER was to open…

    The primary cause had been about nearly 1500 recorded fire code violations in the project’s structure, the central issue being the smoke extraction ventilation system, that contrary to every conventional wisdom/practice, was supposed to draw the smoke down under the floors, instead of up through the roof, because the architect wanted to keep the ceiling space free of conduits, etc. In and of itself, an interesting concept, except it had been installed without any prototyping/testing. Aside maybe from some computer modeling perhaps, but it just didn’t fulfill the requirements as conceived when tested. Apparently they’ve now managed to brute force it, with more floor/wall vents and conduits… The cable runs were too crowded, at full load they could have caught fire… The automatic fire doors weren’t all connected, the fire management system wasn’t working, the sprinkler system was inadequately sized in the number of sprinklers, and then the pipes had to be replacedwith larger diameters, because the pressure/flow rate was inadequate…

    Because of lack of proper oversight and management of the contractors, there’d been a tangle of subcontractors and sub-subcontractors, which meant that no one could confirm that large portions of the project had been built to plan, let alone codes. Some systems had been incompletely installed, because walls/spaces had been closed up prematurely…

    The Airport had also been designed too small in terms of passenger capacity, at least up until Covid 19 tanked the airline industry…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Customer: Here’s the things we want on the project and how it has to be done.

      Contractor: Sure! Just put them all on the contract as they’re all in a convenient place. (That we can ignore)

      Government Regulators: You’re following the contract, aren’t you?

      Contractor: Well, that depends on your definition of “following.” You have to read between the lines of the contract. See? When you do that, it’s all empty space!

      Fire Marshal: Nope.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Governments only really have force to compel obedience when there is in general a culture of willing obedience. Which they can destroy by overreaching.

        Contract law and court enforcement of same is only meaningful within a culture willing to pretend that contracts and judgements are a thing.

        They are useful only in contexts where many of the people who may be asked to do a thing are willing to do the thing.

        Having lawyers write a contract so that every contingency of malfeasance is covered, and going to court to get every item accomplished is too much trouble if you have any choice in who you do business with. (Which is why the poor fellows in government contracting have such a tough row to hoe, but their fore-fellows brought that difficulty onto them by awarding contracts to cronies.)

        As for the Germans, it is possible for an American audience to understand most of their problems as being self-inflicted. I understand that after the Germans realized that Systems Engineering didn’t work in all cultures, they decided to fund an effort to develop a better theory that promised it would work in all cultures. What was described makes perfect sense if their bureaucrats and academics tend to apply that same ‘hit it harder with a bigger hammer’ approach instead of wondering if a hammer is the right tool.

        Liked by 1 person

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