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Aug. 1, 2017
By Connie Leinbach
A class action lawsuit filed yesterday in Dare County Superior Court against PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. cites PCL’s accelerated schedule for completing replacement of the Bonner Bridge for the catastrophic power outage that occurred Thursday on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.
Lawyers from Wallace and Graham, a Salisbury law firm that filed the lawsuit, will be at the Ocracoke Coffee Company on Back Road at 1 p.m. today to talk to anyone interested.
Today, Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative estimated the time frame for complete transmission restoration will be six to 10 days. This includes the time required for testing after all construction is complete and before transmission service can begin to the islands again.
Wallace and Graham is working locally with Rose Harrison & Gilreath in Kill Devil Hills. Dennis C. Rose of the KDH firm said today that anyone affected by the outage–including businesses and individuals who booked vacations that were or might be canceled–may call him to talk about their situation at 252-480-1414.
“This power outage could not have happened at a worse time,” Rose said. “We are getting calls from local residents and business owners who have been damaged in a variety of ways.”
The power outage occurred at 4:30 a.m. July 27 when PCL drove a steel casing through underground transmission cables that power Hatteras and Ocracoke islands resulting in a blackout to thousands of residences and businesses in Hatteras and Ocracoke. The ensuing state of emergency prompted a mandatory evacuation of visitors. While repairs are being made to the damaged electric cables, both islands are being powered by portable generators that cannot handle full visitor capacity.
According to the lawsuit, “PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. touts how by using ‘innovative construction methods’ and an ‘accelerated schedule,’ it ‘saved the client $60 million over the other contractor proposals.’ Unfortunately, along with this cost savings came inadequate work to ensure that the power lines which are the lifeblood to these coastal communities would be protected.”
The complaint alleges that in the process of proceeding with the work, the power lines were “negligently and recklessly cut.”
Several Hatteras businesses joined in the suit. Those suing include Briggs McEwan, whose local pizza and home rental business in Rodanthe claims to have lost thousands of dollars already. Another plaintiff, Tami Lynette Gray of Frisco, claims that her charter boating business has suffered significant losses, as well.
PCL Civil Constructors, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of PCL Construction Enterprises, Inc., was hired to replace the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge across Oregon Inlet from Bodie Island to Hatteras Island with an estimated cost of $250 million or more.
According to PCL’s website, “PCL’s offices in Tampa, Seattle and Raleigh tackle virtually any infrastructure work, from highway, airport and port construction, to a main focus on bridge construction.”
Along with the two law firms noted above, other affiliated law firms are The Gilreath Law Firm in Greenville, S.C., and Whetstone Perkins & Fulda in Columbia, S.C.