Skip to comments.CA: Cost Of Bay Bridge Suspension Tower Could Skyrocket (project may likely cost 500 million more)
Posted on 01/05/2006 10:11:46 PM PST by NormsRevenge
OAKLAND -- A federal study now under way finds the cost of building the new Bay Bridge -- specifically the signature 525-foot suspension tower -- could explode again, this time by almost half a billion dollars.
Almost ten years ago, Caltrans estimated it would cost $1.3 billion dollars to replace the eastern span of the Bay Bridge. Five years ago, the state said it would in fact cost almost twice that much -- $2.5 billion -- for a new bridge.
Last year, Caltrans had still another projected cost: almost $5.3 billion dollars.
Wednesday night, Caltrans spokesman Jeff Weiss acknowledged the agency has had problems with estimates.
"Well, we've had a difficult time with this project, there's no secret about it," said Weiss.
The difficulties could grow even worse in the next month.
KTVU Channel 2 News has learned that just the soaring illuminated tower of the new Bay Bridge project may now cost a staggering 400 million dollars more than Caltrans originally thought.
In fact, the federal highway administration has presented Caltrans with working numbers that say constructing the signature 525-foot suspension tower may come in at $1.8 instead of the current official estimate of $1.4 billion.
In Sacramento, State Senate President Don Perata vowed the bridge will be built, but he remains skeptical of Caltrans.
Senator Perata explained: "I haven't heard those two words very often used together in the same sentence: Trust Caltrans."
Perata led the charge in 2004 against Governor Schwarzenegger over the cost of the bridge, a fight that led to a stall in construction.
The governor argued a different bridge design would save taxpayers money. Instead, Caltrans now says that interruption will probably cost taxpayers about $133 million more. And that doesn't even include the illuminated tower portion of the project.
Officials from the Federal Highway Administration declined to go on camera for an interview, but they did explain more details about their ongoing study.
It's important to note the new cost estimates are just that -- estimates.
If just one organization makes a bid for the contract, as happened the first time, the bid will likely come in high. If it turns out, there are multiple bidders, the cost could actually drop as much as $200 million.
Caltrans spokesman Weiss is optimistic: "Odds are we're going to be on budget with this project."
To give this some context, consider that the entire cost of the complicated earthquake retrofit project -- where the Bay Bridge touches down in San Francisco -- is costing taxpayers S200 million. That's just half of the latest possible cost increase.
No one will know exactly whether the federal study is correct until next month when Caltrans opens the bids for the new work on February 1st. Until then, taxpayers will just have to do what Caltrans has been doing all along: hold their breath.
The governor argued a different bridge design would save taxpayers money. Instead, Caltrans now says that interruption will probably cost taxpayers about $133 million more.
Norm, so who's to blame for the stall here, Perata for leading the charge or Arnold for wanting a cheaper design?
No problem, just raise the bridge toll to $30 a trip! ;-)
Revenue bonds are a good idea.
anything I say will probably be taken the wrong way by some so Im not sure I should answer you as you likely already suspect what I would say anyway. ;-)
But here goes,
imo, most recently The Gub, but those who sought a showy bridge in the first place aren't off the hook either.
anytime you delay a project that was already years in the planning and design, it mucks things up.
CalTrans is certainly to blame as well for allowing the Mayors of Oakland and San FRancisco fighting a more austere design thus mussing it up to some degree earlier on in the project cycle.
This project has been going for close to 15 years already.
Not at all ... it wasn't a loaded question.
I can't understand changing the design in the middle of such a gargantuan project.
Now nobody wins.
I still can't figure which challenge was most costly, Arnold's or Perata's.
lol.. every question is loaded on california threads these days.
They should have just structurally reinforced the old one, but ...
The problem in figuring which is cheaper is that so much has already been spent getting it to this point.. and costs always go up, not down unfortunately.
And how much global warming is the generation of that electricity going to cost....?
A 525 ft tower and suspension cables.....where is PETA....that's going to kill a whole mess of spotted owls, condors, flying frogs and migratory butterflies.
This runaway cost Caltrans project (remind you of the quake retrofitting mess of 10+ years bag?) was obviously conceived as a pay off to union bosses, the Marxist moneybags of San Francisco and the Democrat-enslaved peoples of Oakland.
If Arnold wants a capital improvement bond, I can understand why he'd be deeply concerned about skyrocketing costs for a major Caltrans project. The more projects go over, the less he'd be able to get done for the bond money. I think he was still delusional enough to think he can get things done like the real world, not the world of government. It's possible he hoped to set a precedent of building fully functional rather than aesthetically approved public works.
Back a few years ago, I used to visit a musician's rehearsal space in Oakland, across the street from a Cal Trans office. We used to watch the CalTrans workers pull up, stick their feet out the window, and sleep all afternoon. Not one or two, but 20-30 of them.
I imagine if they got rid of CalTrans, that would go a long, long way towards balancing the budget - we could probably reduce taxes as well. CalTrans is just a big, sucking black hole for money - all that can escape is excuses.
With the amount of money they receive every year, and the state of our roads, it's a major scandal that will never be revealed to the light of day due to the unions. They're wasting billions on this bridge - I'll be surprised it it's finished for less than three times what they're predicting now.
A blind guy could have seen huge cost over runs in this project.
If you couldn't see the future over runs you are probably a democrat.
I traveled extensively in CA about 10 years ago. I remember an article in the San Diego paper about the Mass Transit system that investigated the budgetary funding for the system. It found, on a per rider basis, it would be cheaper to buy each of it's customers a new car and pay for gas, insurance and plates for a year than to fund Mass Transit in San Diego.
I imagine most Mass Transit systems (Amtrak, anyone?) are the same way.
But the thing that most honks me off is going to the Mailbox 6 days a week only to throw everything I recieve into the trash can before I even get in the house.
How about Mail delivery 3 days a week instead of 6?
How about a hiring freeze on federal employment, like Reagan did?
Currently, The Dept. of Agriculture has 3 employees for every farmer in the Country.
Neither and both. You can bet that the cost is largely a function of bizarro-world union work rules and safety procedures, a less-than optimal contractor with an inside track (Kiewit was up by Arnold's buddy Warren Buffet under VERY suspicious circumstances), skyrocketing costs for steel, an architect with a huge ego and an eye for trendy/hip details (Perata's buddies).
Oh yes it does! He picked the contractors and made CalTrans take them despite the reservations of the consulting engineers who analyzed the qualifications of the bidders.
Makes your mind boggle, huh? FRom 1.4 Billion to what will now likely be 6 billion plus.
Yup, they don't even toss money at bridges like that in
Alaska where only a few benefit.
they're blaming Arnold's fight to reduce costs for adding $133 million on to a project that's exploded well over $5 billion? Doesn't pass the smell test.
reducing costs to save money is fine, but when the end result is it raises the cost overall, well.
sometimes, skunks are best left alone to just move on down the road on their own.
CalTrans just built a nice big new headquarters here in San Diego. The zealots who continually plot to get us out of our cars and onto public transportation have leased a nearby parking lot for their employees cars. I think they should fire anyone who doesn't come to work on foot, on a bicycle, or by bus/train/trolley.
Like the big dig in Boston this boondoogle will pay for gay and lesbian counseling, transgender operations, raises for teachers, basketball on weekend nights for impoverished ghetto kids in Oakland.
GOD knows what all crap will get paid for with this.
Not to mention union and political bribes and kickbacks not to mention outright theft.