Restore the Delta has just released a side-by-side comparison of two massive public works projects in California that looks at the promised costs, seismic risks, outsourcing, and lack of transparency and oversight.
The similarities of the projects are notable.
Both projects were sold to Californian taxpayers as a necessary investment in our future. But as with all public works projects, the costs and time to complete these projects were vastly underestimated in the end.
Among the items in the comparison are:
• Initially, the Bay Bridge Replacement was estimated to cost $1.5 billion by CalTrans with a seven-year construction period. Construction actually took fourteen years and cost $6.4 billion.
• The Delta Tunnels project will reportedly cost $15 billion. But that does not include interest, operation costs, or allowance for cost overruns that could push the price tag up to $60 billion. The project’s construction time has already been extended from 10 to 14 years.
• Senior officials who oversaw construction of the Bay Bridge repeatedly and deliberately brushed off criticism about construction problems in what amounted to an institutionalized lack of transparency.
• For the Tunnels project, the Department of Water Resources awarded an $11.4 million no-bid contract to the Hallmark Group in 2012 for the Design Center Entity housed within the Department with no public oversight.
“Support for the Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels is collapsing even among water districts who would pay the majority of the costs. Californians are wary of big public works projects because these never seem to turn out as planned,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. “The ongoing fiasco of the new Bay Bridge should concern everyone who cares about California’s infrastructure. We should not give a free pass to agencies who have a history of failure and overspending.”