The Bay Bridge Report

 We partnered with McSweeney’s Panorama newspaper on the Bay Bridge Report, explaining why our signature span could exceed $12 billion. More than 140 people helped pay for this reporting through Spot.Us. For a $16 print copy, visit a retailer or McSweeney’s. Also read the extensive press coverage.

Also read an update on bridge tolls and bicycle paths from staffer Gianmaria Franchini.

Bay Bridge

Unparalleled bridge, unprecedented cost

Patricia Decker and Robert Porterfield, McSweeney's San Francisco Panorama/SF Public Press — Dec 8 2009 - 1:50pm

When completed, the new east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge will be not only the most complex engineering feat in California history, but also the most expensive, with a cost never subjected to public scrutiny. Although today’s price tag stands at $6.3 billion, the figure accounts for only salaries and hard materials—things like concrete and steel and cranes. When all is said and done, the new Bay Bridge will wind up costing tax- and toll-payers more than $12 billion—a figure that leaves even the officials in charge “staggered.”

How Wall Street profits from bridge building

Robert Porterfield, McSweeney's San Francisco Panorama/SF Public Press — Dec 8 2009 - 1:49pm

The Bay Area Toll Authority has the unique power to raise bridge tolls without the Legislature's approval, which it has done repeatedly to pay off the $6.9 billion bond debt amassed so far to build the new Bay Bridge and upgrade six other spans. That makes BATA particularly attractive to Wall Street, which has pocketed more than $122 million in fees to arrange the borrowing.

Building the bay’s signature span

Patricia Decker, McSweeney's San Francisco Panorama/SF Public Press — Dec 8 2009 - 1:48pm

When all the pieces are finally welded together and tethered by the main suspension cable, the Bay Bridge east span will be not just a new American icon, but also a truly global monument. From the enormous solid steel castings of cable saddles, brackets and bands being forged in Japan and England to the gigantic bearings and hinges being manufactured in South Korea and Pennsylvania, fabrication of the bridge is under way in seven foreign countries and in more than two dozen American cities, including 12 in California.

The fine print: Interest doubles total price tag

Robert Porterfield, McSweeney's San Francisco Panorama/SF Public Press — Dec 8 2009 - 1:47pm

Overall cost estimates have been presented to the public in annual reports and press briefings, but the cost of interest on money borrowed to pay for construction has not been included.

A timeline of the old and new Bay Bridge east span

Mike Adamick, McSweeney's San Francisco Panorama/SF Public Press — Dec 8 2009 - 1:46pm

Graphic illustration: the Bay Bridge

McSweeney's San Francisco Panorama/SF Public Press — Dec 8 2009 - 1:45pm

The east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in graphic illustration. Design by Eleven: Greg Hathaway, Darlene Gibson, Stella Trenggono & Liz Gershman.

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