Around here, people are now marking their calendars in bitter and vindictive anticipation. October 18th is when the Skanska barge case trial starts.
A brief recap for anyone who missed previous posts: When Hurricane Sally came through last year, the Three-Mile Bridge taking US 98 over Pensacola Bay was in the process of being replaced, and while it was operational with just a couple lanes, half of it was under construction. Barges, cranes, the works, all were involved. Skanska, the company who won the bid, had written into their contract that if a bad storm came near (defined as anything that’d produce more than 30 MPH winds) they’d pack up and get all the barges away from the bridge to a safe location. They did not, 20-odd barges broke loose and busted stuff up, the bridge was out of commission for most of a year, and communities on either side already hit by the Covid lockdowns got a double whammy that drove many businesses under permanently.
You can use your imagination to fill in the long, loooooong list of company personnel trying everything but folding themselves into Möbius strips to disclaim any responsibility. Especially financial. But it seems as if their days of dodging may have at least come to a middle.
Parts of the investigation have been made public, from the prosecution’s side. From documents the local station obtained, neatly highlighted, the people in charge of getting the barges moved “admitted it was preventable”.
On top of that, they’ve managed to nail down a timeline of what Skanska knew and when they knew it. To wit: The company knew the storm was on the way and would be of dangerous strength on Sep. 12. And yet as of Sep 13, not one of the barges had been moved.
I’m no legal expert, but I’m thinking their… butts are grass, and the prosecution has a very angry mower.
Frankly, were I Skanska’s defense attorney, I’d push like heck for a change of venue, based on the (possibly true) claim that my clients could not get a fair trial due to everybody who lives within at least 50 miles having a financial interest in the case.
This should be interesting to watch.