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Caltrans’ finest hour?

By enelson
Monday, May 7th, 2007 at 8:18 am in Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding.


You gotta hand it to Caltrans, assuming nothing collapses this week, for getting the I-880 connector back up in a week.

I mean, it looked pretty bad after 4/29, all blackened and pockmarked, with a huge chunk of concrete safety barrier missing from the side where the gasoline tanker truck hit (explain to me again how he survived?).

Now it’s up and running, and this morning at 10 a.m., Caltrans will be live on the Web opening bids for reconstructing the melted I-580 connector ramp at

There’s a chance, I suppose, that there will be a single bid twice as high as Caltrans’ estimate, but I’m not expecting that. I saw nine contractors touring the site on Saturday, and fixing this nationally televised freeway problem would be a feather in the cap of whoever wins the job.

But don’t forget, the 580 connector is by far the greater of the two traffic roadblocks. The 880 was solved with a fairly quick all-freeway detour. The residents of Oakland will still have to deal with afternoon rush hour through their neighborhoods through June, if the 580 connector contract’s June 27 deadline is fulfilled.

In the meantime, I’m just happy to be back at work after a frustrating week of jury duty and watching the Bay Area’s big traffic emergency unfold from the sidelines.

The verdict? Hung, 9-3 in favor of convicting on rape. The defendant, a trucker (nothing to do with the Maze, to be clear) from Oregon, is likely to serve some prison time for several other felonies relating to an illicit soujourn with his best friend’s 13-year-old daughter.

Luckily for me, Caltrans is much easier to figure out.

Photo of welders heat-straightening I-880 girders courtesy of Caltrans.

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4 Responses to “Caltrans’ finest hour?”

  1. DURAL Says:


    Looks like it is more like CAL TRANS finest hour of thievery. I just read that the lowest bidder for reconstruction of the destroyed section is around 800 thousand dollars but so far CALTRANS says it has spent “$14.3 million so far to repair the freeway, including $4.3 in demolition costs, $8 million for shoring it up and testing it and $2 million for traffic management,” as reported in an SF Gate article on May 7,07. In addition they are offering 200 thousand dollars per day as bonus for finishing early. What kind of joke is this to the tax payers?? Is CAL TRANS following Halliburton standards in Iraq ??

  2. Capricious Commuter Says:

    While I hate to sound like a shill for Caltrans, I should point out that the contractor stands to make as much as $5 million in bonuses for finishing early, as I note in my next post. If Caltrans ends up getting this baby for 867k, the taxpayers will be getting the deal of the century.

  3. Reedman Says:

    Maybe my memory is failing me*, but I remember
    the pre-earthquake, pre-1989, Cypress connector
    from 880 to 80 to be easier to maneuver than the
    present implementation. The residents of West Oakland
    renamed Cypress to Nelson Mandela, and Caltrans
    folded like a cheap suit to pressure to re-route
    880 around the previous right-of-way. Perhaps one
    contributing factor to the crash was that the
    Maze is not as easy to get through as it could be.

    * as you get older, memory is the second thing to
    go. I don’t remember what the first is…

  4. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    I do not think that the area where the accident occurred changed at all after 1989. The truck was traveling from the bridge to 580, which was not affected.

    I doubt we will ever know what happened. There have been a lot of people who claimed that the truck was speeding, but trucks do not normally speed at the highest point of an overpass.

    No doubt the cost of the repairs will not be charged as an operating expense of the roads. It will become one more ignored cost when it comes to “proving” that drivers pay more than what they cost, no matter how little they pay.

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