PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The operators of the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge are suing the federal government because of costs incurred after support columns on the bridge that were actually moved by their contractor.
A gravel area at the foot of the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge’s Portsmouth side once was tidal marshland, and underneath it spoils from dredging, which is part of a superfund cleanup site of creosote.
“There was stockpiling of materials in close proximity to the bridge,” said Jordan Bridge General Manager Kevin Crum.
The suit alleges The Army Corps of Engineers and a contractor, Sevenson Environmental Services based in New York, stockpiled the toxic material so close to columns, which are called piers, that the columns actually moved.
According to the federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, “Upon closer inspection it was determined the actions of the defendants had caused Pier 13 … to move 3.5 inches, Pier 14 to move 2.5 inches and Pier 17 to move 1.5 inches.”
The movement of the columns which was discovered by the Army Corps forced the Jordan Bridge operators to get a survey engineer to determine if there was damage to the columns.
There wasn’t, but the cost to the Jordan Bridge was $196,000. “The bridge is in great health and shape for the longterm, and this information gave us a lot of comfort in that there is no damage. We are just trying to get reimbursed for the engineering results,” Crums said.
The Army Corps says it is not responsible, and that the contractor is responsible, writing the attorney for the Jordan Bridge owners: “An independent contractor is not considered an employee of the Federal Government.”
Crum says their cost would not have occurred had the columns not moved. In the suit they argue the, “Government was on site on a daily basis and in fact did provide day to day supervision of the work … the Government specifically directed the fill be placed closer in vicinity to the bridge piers than Sevenson’s original plan.”
Crum points to an email exhibit in the suit from the Army Corp to its contractor directing them, “The Jordan Bridge owner will lay an egg if they see this. Please clear this material away from the pier.” The contractor responds “we will start clearing this material tomorrow.” Crum told us, “it’ basically evidence being created that there was knowledge that there was stockpiling taking place, and this was just basic communication between the government and their contractors.”
Crum tells us, “It really is a question of who reimburses us for the survey work. That is all we are looking for. We want to pay for the actual cost of the survey that was completed to verify the information.”
The Army Corps referred us to the U.S. Attorney for comment, but our mail was not returned. The contractor refused our request for comment due to the pending legal case.
No court date has been set to hear this matter.