Government waste chronicles
The arrogant indifference toward the waste of taxpayer money on the part of government bureaucrats is infuriating. When coupled with self-righteousness, it becomes nearly intolerable.
The latest example can be found in the new eastern span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, which sports a bicycle path. The path does not lead all the way to San Francisco, mind you, only from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island, a destination that lacks any major attractions. The path itself is estimated to cost $200 million.
But what is truly infuriating is that a temporary access structure was built to allow bicyclists and pedestrians to enter, and now, after only 7 months, it is to be torn down. Matier and Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle report:
The Bay Area Toll Authority spent $9.4 million to build a temporary entrance so the Bay Bridge's bike path could be ready when the new eastern span opened to traffic in September.
And now - after less than seven months - the half-mile-long connector is being torn down to make way for a new, permanent gateway.
That puts the cost to provide temporary bike and pedestrian access to the bridge at about $47,000 a day.
Wow! Now I go on the bridge now and then, and I can attest that you do not see hordes of bicyclists or pedestrians. There are no figures for how many a day use the path, because no toll is collected from them. But I would be surprised if the figure were more than a hundred or two. That would put the cost of access per user at a few hundred dollars each.
The justification offered for this waste is laughable:
"This bridge has always been about access for all kinds of travel modes, not just automobiles," he said. "And if we were going to get cars on the bridge by Labor Day, then why shouldn't we get bikers and walkers on at the same time?"
Umm, because it costs way too much! But of course, for Mr. Heminger, the waste of money is no factor to consider.
The reason for the need for a temporary structure relates to the ongoing demolition of the old bridge:
The temporary ramp at the Oakland touchdown filled in for a 3,000-foot section of the elevated path that couldn't be built until part of the old eastern span was demolished and eastbound lanes were rerouted.
According to bridge project spokesman Andrew Gordon, "If we used this (temporary route) as a permanent connection, it would have cut into what eventually is going to be Gateway Park" - a waterfront greenbelt at the foot of the new bridge.
The wood structure with metal rails, stretching the length of 10 football fields, was built on Treasure Island and assembled at the eastern end of the bridge.
The bureaucrats are now invoking the scared cow of recycling, as if that makes the waste acceptable, though in fact they have no actual place to recycle as yet:
Officials hope the timber trestles from the temporary path can be reused, possibly by the East Bay Regional Park District or the state park system.
Car tolls for the bridge have jumped substantially, and are now 500% higher than they were. But hey, cars are evil….