Bay Area Briefs

Friday December 21, 2001

Oakland to pay woman struck by police car



OAKLAND — The city of Oakland will pay $2.75 million to a woman left permanently disabled when a police car struck her vehicle last year. 

Bernice Berry, 49, is confined to a wheelchair and is not expected to walk again, said her attorney, Mark Webb of San Francisco. Berry also suffered permanent brain damage in the September 2000 crash, he said. 

The driver of the police car, Officer Mark Battle, was on his way to help other officers chase a fleeing suspect when his vehicle broadsided a car carrying Berry, said Chief Assistant City Attorney Randolph Hall. 

Battle, 27, entered the intersection against a red light and was not using his siren, Hall said. Whether he had turned on his flashing lights is in dispute. 

The settlement, approved by the City Council on Tuesday night, will finance long-term medical care for Berry, a mother of four. 

Police Chief Richard Word said Battle has not been disciplined, pending the results of an internal investigation. Battle, who joined the force in November 1998, has been transferred from patrol to a sexual assault task force. 




Bridge replacement  

contracts received




OAKLAND — Bids on the first of four major contracts to replace the Bay Bridge’s eastern span came in Wednesday way over the Caltrans estimate. 

Just two bids were submitted for the first phase of the project, a pair of side-by-side viaducts – to carry traffic in opposite directions. The elevated roads will stretch eight-tenths of a mile from the Oakland toll plaza west to a single-span tower near Yerba Buena Island. 

Kiewitt FCI Manson, a joint venture based in Concord, turned in the apparent low bid of $1.04 billion. The other bid, from a Tutor-Saliba consortium, was $1.1 billion. 

Kiewitt’s bid exceeded an estimate Caltrans raised in the last couple of weeks from $746 million to $800 million. In July, Caltrans had estimated the cost at $700 million. 

The bid isn’t enough to break the bank for the $2.6 billion project, according to officials with Caltrans and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which shares responsibility for financing the eastern span replacement. 

But if future contracts for the new bridge – including the single-tower suspension span – also come in over budget, Bay Area officials and Caltrans would have to return to the Legislature to plead for more money. 

Last summer, when Caltrans said the cost of the bridge had doubled from $1. 3 billion, state legislators, especially from Southern California, were reluctant to bail out the Bay Area. 

Transportation officials were forced to make the temporary $2 toll permanent as part of the financing deal. While the region was able to avoid a $3 toll, that may not be the case next time.