SFist first brought this story to you last week...Bay Area bridge costs are way over budget. We aren't talking a few hundred or thousand dollars here. The San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge is "reportedly" $2.54 billion over budget. Yesterday, Governor Schwarzenegger said the Bay Area is to blame for the Bay Bridge costs, and that residents should foot the bill. This doesn't include any state money, even though the bridge IS part of the interstate highway system, and the project is being overseen by the state Department of Transportation. As we noted last week, this can only mean one thing...an increase in bridge tolls to as much as $5! We are not surprised.
Rob Stutzman, the governor's chief spokesman, says the administration will ask the Legislature to place a measure on the Nov. 2 ballot asking Bay Area voters to redirect the recent $1 toll increase, and transfer responsibility for the new bridge, as well as the rest of the toll bridge retrofitting from Caltrans to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Stutzman feels that "if the Bay Area wants [the bridges], the Bay Area will have to pay for it". Thank Goodness for Senator Tom Torlakson, a Democrat from Antioch. He is sticking to his guns that the state should not expect the Bay Area to pick up this monstrous tab on a state project. He also adds that Bay Area residents decided to raise the Bay Bridge toll to support other transportation projects, and not the cost of the bridge's retrofit.
Nonetheless, failing to come up with a financing plan could further delay construction of the Bay Bridge, which was scheduled to open in 2011. The new eastern segment of the Bay Bridge is really two bridges -- reaching west from Oakland and the single-tower suspension span connecting to Yerba Buena Island. The lack of funding could force the rejection of the lone bid for the single-tower suspension section of the new bridge.
We think the Governator should sell one of his Hummers to help offset these inflated costs. But, that's just our opinion, and we are sticking to it.