Legislators settle on Bay Bridge retrofitting deal

The Associated Press
Monday September 17, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO – Lawmakers in Sacramento have decided on a Bay Bridge earthquake retrofitting deal that requires the state to pay about 40 percent of the $1.46 billion needed for the project. 

The state will also need to cover up to $448 million in unanticipated expenses. 

“This is the best deal we could arrive at to move forward,” said Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Walnut Creek. 

The deal follows weeks fraught with debate, as well as a standoff that might have put an end to the legislation entirely. Southern California representatives tried to insert amendments into AB 1171, Assemblyman John Dutra’s (D-Fremont) bill. The bill proposed paying for $2 billion in costs to retrofit seven state toll bridges, including the Bay Bridge. 

Dutra threatened to withdraw the measure after Southern California representatives attempted to put in amendments. Southern California representatives said they were concerned the bill would hurt projects in their areas. 

This agreement outlined that the state would use $642 million in federal bridge funds and rely on revenue bonds from bridge tolls. Bay Area representatives prevailed on the means of funding unanticipated expenses, but they didn’t get as much state funding for the project as they wanted. 

Also, under the new agreement, the state can raise tolls if the bridge is damaged from an earthquake or another unforeseen event. 

Bay Area legislators were pleased they had come to an agreement. 

“We’re going to have a bridge,” Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland, said. “We had to get this thing built. We were teetering on the edge of another delay.”