Those fun-loving Caltrans folks sure know how to party. Today’s Los Angeles Times brings the dispatch that “[t]he much-delayed and over-budget eastern span of the San-Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge will not open as scheduled on Labor Day weekend, transportation officials announced Monday, eliciting disappointment but little surprise in a region dependent on the soaring structure.” Maria L. La Ganga and Patrick McGrevy, Another Delay for Bay Bridge, L.A. Times, July 9, 2013, at p. AA1. So far, no surprises. It is common that major public projects fail to be completed on time, on spec and on budget.
It appears that in this case, 32 gigantic bolts holding the structure together had fractured and will need replacement at a cost estimated to be $15 million before the new bridge can become fully operational. Plus, there will be a delay of some three months in the completion of the new bridge.
So what’s this about a party? It seems that the folks in charge of planning this project were planning on throwing a $5 million party to celebrate the bridge opening, “possibly including a bridge walk, a bike ride and a recreational run.”
As we are fond of reminding our readers every chance we get, for this they got money — millions to be exact. For fully compensating landowners whose property they take by eminent domain, thereby inflicting incontestable economic damages on them, they ain’t got money. In fact, the California Supreme Court has been known to assert that if condemnees were to be fully compensated for all damages inflicted on them when their land is taken, “an embargo” — yessir, an embargo — on construction of public works in California would have to be imposed.
Ah, but there seems to be a redeeming factor to all this: those public project builders sure know how to party with your money, don’t they?