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Best Alternative for Bay Bridge Replacement Is Awarding Current Bid



Best Alternative for Bay Bridge Replacement
Is Awarding Current Bid

Independent Report Confirms Caltrans Findings

A report commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in its role as the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) affirms the conclusion drawn earlier this summer by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) that seeking new bids for construction of a self-anchored suspension span for the eastern portion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge—or redesigning the segment as a conventional cable-stayed suspension span—would delay opening of the new Bay Bridge eastern span by another one to four years and likely would boost total project costs by as much as $310 million. The full Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Cost Review Report, prepared for MTC by Bechtel Infrastructure Corporation, is available on the MTC Web site at: http://www.mtc.ca.gov/whats_happening/legislative_update/Bechtel-Report.pdf

MTC commissioned the Bechtel report in June 2004 when Caltrans sought the Commission’s assistance in analyzing costs and cost overruns for the entire Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program, which is designed to strengthen or replace seven state-owned bridges to improve their safety and performance in the event of an earthquake. In addition to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the program involves the Benicia-Martinez Bridge, the Carquinez Bridge, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, and two Southern California bridges. Five of the seven bridge projects are complete, leaving the two most complicated jobs—the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge—remaining to be finished. The new report was triggered in May 2004 when Caltrans’ contract for building the self-anchored suspension span came in higher than expected and caused the expected cost of the toll bridge seismic retrofit program to exceed the funding made available to it by the California Legislature.

“Public safety is the reason we’re replacing the east span of the Bay Bridge,” said Rod McMillan, MTC’s manager of Bridge and Highway Operations. “The surest way to make good on our responsibility is to award the pending contract.”

McMillan explained that while a new round of bids would not guarantee lower prices, the resultant delays certainly would lead to inflationary cost increases on all contracts awarded as part of the Bay Bridge east span replacement. “We can’t afford to start from scratch,” he said, noting that parts of the foundation for the self-anchored suspension segment already are under construction and that the entire new east span has been designed as a single unified system to maximize seismic safety.
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.