Where's That Confounded Bridge?
November 29, 2004 11:12 PM Subscribe
Now there's a time but I say none like now: After the eastern cantilever span of the Oakland-Bay Bridge collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, CalTrans engineers recommended replacing it with a cable-stayed bridge. The estimated cost was roughly 1 billion and would be completed in 2003--that is, until the Mayors Brown got involved. Then-SF-Mayor Willie Brown objected to the new design, saying the abutment at Yerba Buena island would interfere with his planned condominium development. Brown coaxed the Navy--who owned the land on which the foundation would be built--into preventing CalTrans from performing soil-engineering tests, saying the new bridge wasn't safe, making references to other bridge disasters, and interviewing engineers all over the Bay Area until he finally found one who agreed with him. Jerry Brown--former governor of California and current mayor of Oakland--voiced his opposition, calling the design a "bland viaduct" and proposing an international competition to design "a world-class bridge." When CalTrans told Brown his objections were a year late, he dug up an old Frank Lloyd Wright design and asked CalTrans, "Say, can we put trains on it, too?" The delays and design changes have increased the cost to over five billion, and its completion date is anyone's guess. According to Governor Schwartzenegger, this is the Bay Area's problem, not California's. (Fine then! Can we have our water back?) Fifteen years, two audits, and one angry architect later, the questions remain: how and by whom will this new bridge be funded, what will it look like, and will it be finished when the The Big One hits?
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