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Funds Diverted From Other Caltrans Projects To Make Up For New Bay Bridge Span Deficit

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The new Bay Bridge eastern span will likely end up at least $35 million in the red, and officials are shifting money from other completed Caltrans bridge projects to make up the difference.

Until recently, bridge officials were hopeful the span would cost less than the budgeted $6.4 billion. But there's still as much as $110 million worth of unbudgeted work to be done on the span, according to Caltrans estimates to be presented to a bridge oversight panel on Tuesday.

Officials said tearing down the old eastern span could end up costing $100 million more than estimated.

State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, who chairs the Senate's transportation committee, said he's not surprised by the predicted deficit, given earlier engineering and budgetary problems.

"The original engineers' estimate on this bridge was $1.4 billion so it's now over $6.4 billion with this information and still going up. In addition to that, it was 10-years late from when it was supposed to be built, putting the driving public at risk because of the risk of an earthquake," said DeSaulnier.

He said taxpayers should pressure lawmakers to address the problems, potentially by reassigning or firing bridge officials.

Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman Randy Retschler said there is still money available in contingency funds to pay for the estimated cost overruns. He said the bridge toll will not need to go up to fund the shortfall.

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