Sandbridge Virginia Oceanfront Seawall Arbitration Hearing: Some Lessons Learned for Coastal Engineers

by David R. Basco, Old Dominion Univ, Norfolk, United States,
Robert A. Dolan, Old Dominion Univ, Norfolk, United States,
Carter Sinclair, Old Dominion Univ, Norfolk, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Engineering Practice

Abstract: A group of beach property homeowners claimed that their new oceanfront seawall was defective in design. A beefed-up design cost about $1.3 million more and they sought this amount from the marine contractor. The contractor claimed his balance due ($178,000) for the construction which totaled about $851,000. A three member panel of professional engineers representing the American Arbitration Association reviewed evidence and testimony from 'experts' on both sides and then denied the claim of the homeowners and upheld that of the contractor. The panel also specified that an 'independent engineer' be jointly hired to recommend and supervise some remedial work to the seawall design that was determined during the hearing. This was to be paid by the contractor. After 7 months and at this writing, the complete award of the arbitration panel has yet to be implemented. This paper presents the (1) background and history of the oceanfront site under consideration; (2) a review of the original design (Engineer No. 1 working for contractor) and the beefed-up design (Engineer No. 2 hired by homeowners); (3) the scale of a storm that triggered the concern of the homeowners group; (4) further facts about the original design uncovered at the hearing and the responsibility of the 'independent engineer' (Engineer No. 3); and finally (5) some lessons of interest for all coastal engineers practicing, the profession that we may draw from this case.

Subject Headings: Ocean engineering | Arbitration | Sea walls | Contractors and subcontractors | Coastal environment | Retaining structures | Construction sites | Beaches | North America | Virginia | United States

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