Beyond “normal” deviations: New Oakland bridge expected to be two years late, $6M over budget

shocked face

If there’s anything that’s normal: massive project overruns in California.

The environmental impact review did not indicate toxic dirt was at the site? Sounds suspicious to me.

From SF Gate: A bridge in Oakland that was supposed to cost no more than $24 million could now come to well over $30 million, and the city says toxic dirt is mostly to blame.

On top of the extra dollars, the project won’t be completed until December — two years later than the original target. Though some City Council members said they felt Oakland was being overcharged, they nonetheless approved the cost increases, reasoning, in part, that most of the funds are from the federal and state governments and that abandoning the contracts midway through construction would be more disastrous than pumping additional money into the work.

“It’s extraordinary,” said Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney. “It’s way beyond what I consider normal deviations.”

The undertaking to demolish and replace the 50-year-old Embarcadero Bridge that ran over the Lake Merritt Channel, just south of Interstate 880, is part of a years-long seismic safety retrofit program in California to upgrade some 2,000 bridges so they can withstand big earthquakes.

To get it done, the city hired Flatiron as its primary contractor, along with T.Y. Lin International Group, AECOM and Biggs Cardosa Associates. The firms did not respond to requests for comment.

In Oakland, the new bridge will be wider and taller than the old one, giving space for bike lanes and an underpass to connect Lake Merritt and the estuary for small boats. The project also includes better street lighting, landscaping, restrooms and rainwater treatment areas.

The bridge is seen as a critical connection between the Embarcadero Cove, the massive Brooklyn Basin development, Jack London Square and Jingletown.

At the outset, construction was supposed to begin in April 2015 and be done by December 2016. But workers at the site soon came across soil and groundwater contaminated with hydrocarbons — likely from old fuel leaks — plus lead and other metals, according to Sean Maher, spokesman for the city’s Public Works Department. The level of contamination was unexpected.

That required the contractors to erect a special dam and containment booms to prevent the pollution from getting into the bay, Maher said. The soil then had to be tested and sorted by how hazardous it was to determine which type of landfill could safely hold it.

The start of construction was delayed 15 months. A report from the city, which is disputing some of the contractors’ new payment requests, said that as of November just 40 percent of construction was done yet 65 percent of expenditures were gone.

Contamination was only half the story. City officials have repeatedly referred to a permit dispute with the contractors, but have declined to provide details. The parties are now in mediation over the issue as well as disagreements over the cost increases.

“We’ve been fighting with them for months about how much they’re asking, and we haven’t been accepting,” Mohamed Alaoui, a city engineer, told the City Council last month.

The city is trying to figure out what went wrong with an initial environmental review, which didn’t catch the amount of toxins present.

“It can be a challenging science,” Alaoui said. “You go out in the field. You have specific locations where you take samples. You make interpolations from that. You assess risk levels from that, and then you move on. And in this case it did not work.”

Read the rest of the story here.


10 responses to “Beyond “normal” deviations: New Oakland bridge expected to be two years late, $6M over budget

  1. There are failed states (countries). Oakland, CA is a failed city. The latest: the reason for the frequent closures of Lake Berryessa, supposedly because of abundant algae, is because of leakage/dumping of raw sewage, due to Oakland’s crumbling 100+-year-old sewage pipes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • How symbolic that natural lake water is choking with raw sewage while a bridge is held up for two years at huge costs because of trace hydrocarbons that showed up in soils already tested. The trace hydrocarbons could only have been detected after all these years of regs because the samples were extremely stable, more or less permanently adhered to the soil, and almost certainly a whole lot less harmful than after moving them to landfill with reactive soil.

      The only thing “green” about environmentalism (a political ideology inimical to actual conservation) and “green” buildings and the codes promoting them is the color of the money to be made scamming the taxpayers of America. How is it that probably 95% of those in the “green” industry are Bernie-style socialists making a bundle in ways that’d make capitalists recoil in horror?

      Liked by 4 people

      • Dan . . . . Bravo! I too believe that the environmentalist hold us taxpayers by the throat, to extract all this big money to fix things that aren’t really broken. Could you just imagine if Bernie Sanders ever got to be President?

        Liked by 4 people

      • Exactly. Here we are…the govt is spraying us like bugs night and day with harmful toxic chemicals. Then they have the nerve to try and act benevolent..
        caring sooo much about the spotted frog or whatever. It’s so obviously about control and has nothing at all with protection and preservation

        Liked by 2 people

        • 50 Shades Of Pissed Off . . . . I could not agree with you more. Each and every day it is nice in Portland, suns out, no rain–out come the small planes creating chemtrails..

          I have in my yard six very healthy large blueberry bushes, two years this next may, the county or some government agency decided to spray for gypsy moth. One morning at 5:30 a helicopter flew over head to spray the huge sequoia in the property next to mine. Frankly, I didn’t know what it was at the time, I didn’t know if a foreign army had invaded–the entire house was shaking. At that time the blueberry’s were just setting their fruit, they all had a wonderful array of buds on them. I did not eat any of the blueberries that year, although they said the spray they used was non-toxic, I didn’t believe them. I just allowed the fruit to mature and drop from the plants. It was later learned that this spray had affected dogs and cats that were out during the spraying.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Failure is inept politicians that are there not because they care but because the money is easy for the takings; it’s not their fault mind you -it is us who put them there with our vote and the money they steal from us is dished out under the table to the ones they know will recruit new voters so naive they believe anything that’s fed to them -the “wheel of fortune” never stops, we are the one who have to the power to get rid of them, but oh, they come back as lobbyists.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Alma . . . You have hit on something extremely important . . . when we get rid of weasel politicians, they “come back as lobbyists.” With all the knowledge and finesse to screw over the taxpayer.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Sad but TYPICAL. I worked with government contracts for years. The best way to do this is “bid, design, build”, That way the contractor “owns” any site problems. It behooves them to investigate.

    This is what we live with. The governments are corrupt and inept. The contractors are corrupt and predatory. As a society we should not allow it. Of course the politicians who are supposed to look out for our interests don’t work for us. They work for their owners.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I would say the greatest sorrow here is that they don’t have a Donald Trump clone to manage, and slap these weasels silly when they pull this kind of stuff. It is an outrage, when there are so many things that do need to be accomplished, and then loads of money are siphoned off to fill the pockets of fat cats.

    Liked by 3 people

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