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Santa Rosa To Seek Damages, Lost Revenue From Skanska

Santa Rosa County

Santa Rosa County commissioners Tuesday night hired a number of local law firms to recover damages and lost revenue as a result of the Escambia Bay Bridge being knocked out during Hurricane Sally in September.

Commissioners, like hundreds of people across Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, blame the bridge damage on Skanska USA, the company hired to build the replacement Pensacola Bay Bridge before the storm.  The bridge was struck by barges as the hurricane swept across the Gulf of Mexico.

“As Hurricane Sally approached, Skanska failed to property secure the construction site and as a result, property was damaged, and the Pensacola Bay Bridge has been closed. As a result of Skanska’s failures, Santa Rosa County has been adversely and significantly impacted,” a summary of the agenda item said.

The following firms would represent the county: Levin, Papantonio, Rafferty, Proctor, Buchanan, Obrien, Barr & Mougey, PA; Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, PLLC; and Beggs & Lane RLLP. The firms would receive 25% of any money received, as well as costs related to the litigation. The agenda item said the city of Gulf Breeze, Escambia County and the city of Pensacola have agreed to participate in the suit.

Commissioner Colten Wright pointed out the rerouted traffic and severe impact on Gulf Breeze businesses the last eight months when he said “It’s the right thing to do: Stand up for the citizens and taxpayers.”

County Administrator Dan Schebler said joining the other local governments in the suit would give Santa Rosa County a seat at the table when discussing a settlement with Skanska.

Commissioner James Calkins said he was concerned that not joining the suit might mean the county would be left out of any verdict or settlement. 

In other action, the board:

  • Approved a grant application to the state Department of Children and Families under the STOP Domestic Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program. The agenda item read: “This grant provides funding for the domestic violence court program and all matching contributions are met through in-kind staff time."
  • Approved lowering the speed limit to 20 mph on the Navarre Beach Causeway. A memo from the public works department reads: “Every spring, endangered skimmers nest along the Navarre Beach Causeway. As part of our USFWS permit, a message board will be installed to warn the public about the nesting birds and the speed limit along the causeway will be reduced to 20 mph. Nesting season typically lasts through September. This temporary reduction in speed has been approved in previous years.” Commissioner James Calkins objected to lowering the speed limit, saying he believes it will slow traffic and add to the congestion in the area.
Tom Ninestine is the managing editor at WUWF. He began August 1, 2019. Tom is a native of Geneva, New York, and a 1983 graduate of King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he studied journalism and political science. During a 29-year career in newspapers he worked for the Finger Lakes Times in his hometown; The Daily Item in Sunbury, Pennsylvania; and the Pensacola News Journal from 1998-2016.