Sunday, March 27, 2022

The taxpayer piggybank: GG Bridge and the train that is not so fast. Billions squandered

Under construction since 2018, the massive project aims to deter and prevent people from jumping off the bridge by building a 20-foot-wide metal mesh net below the railings on each side the span. Originally estimated to cost $76 million when it went out to bid in 2015, the project’s cost has increased to about $206 million as of Friday and could increase to nearly $215 million by the time it is completed, according to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.

The barrier was first set to be completed in January 2021, but is now expected to be finished in November 2023 because of construction delays. The addition of the barrier also requires major modifications to the maintenance platforms. The platforms are used by bridge workers to make repairs to the harder-to-reach sides and underbelly of the 1.7-mile span. These changes are expected to be completed in December 2025, about two years later than the original estimate.

The bridge district attributes the delays and much of the cost increases in recent years to the contractor, Shimmick Construction Co. The district says Shimmick’s acquisition by the multi-national engineering firm AECOM shortly after the construction was awarded in 2017, and misleading assurances of project completion, were factors in the delays. AECOM sold Shimmick in 2020.

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