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Ed Driscoll

‘This Is Why California Can’t Have Nice Things’

July 1st, 2013 - 3:41 pm

“Behold Caltrans, the state transportation agency in California that, despite having some $14 billion or so to spend every year, cannot manage to follow its own rules,” Kevin Williamson writes at the NRO Corner today. As Williamson writes, “California has been building a new eastern span for the Bay Bridge, a $6.4 billion project scheduled to open in about two months,” which, as Williamson writes, “California would like very much to ensure that the bridge does not fall down.” There’s just one problem

In sum: Caltrans has spent billions of dollars on a new bridge span that incorporates parts manufactured in a way that violates Caltrans rules that are as a result more likely to fail, that already have been installed and cannot be removed, as part of a process with missing quality-control documentation and no record of a final sign-off from the engineer in charge — and a September 3 opening date.

Those who believe that government should have a stronger hand in regulating the private sector should consider that government cannot even regulate itself much of the time. Those who argue for stronger regulation do so with the implicit assumption that we will have if not the Platonic ideal of a regulator then at least a good regulator. What we get is Caltrans.

Read the whole thing. Regarding the potential safety hazards of the new bridge span, our enlightened, Zen-focused Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown was quoted in May by the San Jose Mercury as saying, “Don’t know if it’s a setback. I mean, look, s*** happens.”

(The Mercury, no-longer evidently a family newspaper — and really, who can blame them, given the paucity of Northern California families? — published the quote sans asterisks.)

But that bridge may be getting plenty of extra traffic, as “Bay Area Rapid Transit workers walked off the job early Monday morning after last-minute negotiations failed to produce a new contract agreement. The strike left about 400,000 BART riders finding other ways to get work.”

One upside though, is that for the moment, there’s less chance of commuters being accosted by naked acrobats at BART stations while the system is strike is on:

A naked man was caught on camera harassing passengers at a San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit station last month.

In the newly released videotape, the man identified as 24-year-old acrobat Yeiner Perez can be seen lunging at people, doing handstands and backflips. The video was recorded by a station agent on her cellphone on May 10th at the 16th and Mission streets BART Station.

The agent was trying to shelter a woman who was accosted by Perez. She can be heard encouraging the woman, who is audibly shaken to get inside the booth to escape the naked man.

Back in May, I interviewed Kevin about his new book, The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome, which sounds like a particularly apropos theme for the once-Golden State now in its dotage. Click here to listen.

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Well on the other side of the continent, the MTA in New York did keep the 100-year-old South Ferry station around after it opened its half-billion-dollar replacement in 2009. So when Hurricane Sandy flooded the new station, making it unusable for years and causing $600 million in damages (inflation in New York since Obama took office apparently is running at 20 percent), they were able to put the old station back into service.

Maybe that's what Caltrans should do -- even after the new bridge opens, just keep the other one in place, so that when the new span fails a few years down the line, they'll have a spare East Bay crossing they can put back into action.
1 year ago
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Don't forget that even the lowest paid employee of BART makes 90K per year.
1 year ago
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