Bay Bridge Still…

The Bay Bridge frolics continue…

Matier and Ross reported a couple of days ago that, even though the eastern span of the bridge has been open since September of 2013, there are still 170 Caltrans staff and consultants working on the bridge full time. Or, given Caltrans’ collective aversion to documenting what people working on the bridge are doing, maybe it would be more accurate to say that 170 people are still being paid for jobs related to the bridge.

That sounds worse than it actually is. There is still work going on, after all. Not just repairs–though as we know, there are a few of those going on–but also the demolition of the old bridge. But transportation planners are upfront about the real reason many of those people are still on the job. M&R quote one unnamed source as saying “They got nowhere to go.” Until new projects come along–and funding is on the decline–they stay put, doing, something or other. Presumably.

Caltrans apparently has never heard of temporary positions and layoffs are not even being considered..

Still, one Caltrans employee will be transitioning off the Bay Bridge project. Our buddy Jaxon Van Derbeken reports that Tony Anziano, the former top official will be reassigned to other projects. Yes, this is the same Tony Anziano that the California Highway Patrol determined had mishandled engineers’ complaints about bad welds. That’s apparently the extent of the “management shakeup” that was supposed to follow the CHP’s investigation.

Mark DeSaulnier, told Jaxon he was disappointed. “The biggest problem with that bridge is that nobody has ever been held accountable.” Hey, Mark, you were the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Committee until last month. Did you consider using your position to change that culture of unaccountability? Jaxon, did you ask the former state senator what he intends to do to improve Caltrans’ culture once he takes his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives?

The bridge also has some problems unrelated to construction. The Chron’s Vivian Ho has pointed out that several of the palm trees planted next to the eastern approach are showing signs of disease, and one has died. According to MTC architectural coordinator Clive Endress, a five to ten percent mortality rate is an “industry standard”. Certainly one of thirty-seven is well below that range; if the pink rot can be controlled without losing any more trees, Caltrans will be off the hook there.

Clive, who is the person who selected the palms for their “dramatic visual quality”, also pointed out that other species of trees have their own unique diseases, implying that Caltrans would be dealing with similar issues even if he had chosen a native species.

Granted, even if all of the trees died, it wouldn’t be a disaster on the scale of the Bolt Botch and assorted welding screwups, but it would have been nice if some aspect of the Bay Bridge project could have been free of problems and controversy.

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