CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – The dredging company being blamed by the city of Chesapeake for the partial shutdown of the Route 168 Bypass Bridge has a history of crashes and complaints – including a number of lawsuits filed against them in Hampton Roads, a 10 On Your Side investigation has revealed.
Earlier this week Chesapeake City Council approved $750,000 in emergency funding for repairs to the bridge, which is now reopened. Council members said they would go after Norfolk Dredging for the cost of repairs.
“We’re tracking all costs with all intentions of recuperating our costs from the vessel operator,” said Chesapeake Public Works Director Earl Sorey.
But this is far from the first troubling incident for the company.
Back in March, Norfolk Dredging’s tugboat “Miss Judy” was pushing a dredge which hit a pipe in the Intercoastal Waterway at Great Bridge Lock. The damage caused a sewage spill which sent 2.5 million gallons of wastewater into the Elizabeth River. It was initially estimated it could cost $6 million to repair.
A representative from HRSD tells 10 On Your Side that “the pipeline cannot be repaired due to the extent of the damage and the challenges of doing work inside the intercoastal waterway” and as a result, it will be replaced with a new pipeline.
Miss Judy is the same tugboat involved in a deadly crash two years ago.
A 36-year-old man and an 8-year-old boy were killed when the tugboat collided with a reactional boat near the Jordan Bridge. Documents obtained by 10 On Your Side say the little boy had just caught a fish and was celebrating with his dad when the crash happened.
Norfolk Dredging denies responsibility for the collision, but did settle with the families of the two victims. The total of both settlements is more than $1 million.
Currently, a person working on one of the company’s vessels in 2020 is suing Norfolk Dredging for $2 million. The person claims his hand was crushed in a door frame when the vessel rolled. The lawsuit alleges that Norfolk Dredging failed to provide “a safe place to work” and blames a “failure to provide competent officers and crew.”