Bay Area Traffic

Group wary of private funding for Doyle Drive project

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Doyle Drive replacement project could become the first state project to be finished with private funding. Last year, the law changed to allow private money into public projects, but there is a fight brewing over whether that is a good idea for taxpayers.

The contracts awarded so far for various parts of the Doyle Drive replacement project have been done the old-fashioned way, with the state taking bids from contractors and choosing the best one and the state paying that contractor up front.

But now there is another way to get to the finished product, where contractors put together their own financing and promise to maintain the site for 30 years. The state pays them about one-third of the cost on completion and the rest of it over those 30 years.

Caltrans and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority want to do that, but they need the Transportation Commission's approval to go ahead.

The Professional Engineers in California Government represents 13,000 state-employed engineers. They say the private investment plan will double the cost of the project.

They have just started running radio ads in advance of the commission's May 20 vote.

"It eliminates competitive bidding and it keeps mountains of debt on Bay Area and California taxpayers for years to come and that debt will prevent the construction of projects for 30 years," PECG spokesperson Ted Toppin said.

Jose Luis Moskovich is executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. He says the private option insulates the state from cost overruns and provides a 30-year warranty on the work.

"This gives you a cheaper project, delivered on time, on budget and with a 30-year warranty," Moskovich said. "How could we go wrong?"

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Tags:
caltrans, construction, doyle drive, golden gate bridge, bay area traffic, heather ishimaru
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