U.S. Transportation Secretary
Norman Y. Mineta announced Dec. 4 that the Department's Federal Highway Administration
will provide a $450 million loan to the California Department of Transportation
to complete the state's funding package for the $3.3 billion San Francisco-Oakland
Bay Bridge seismic retrofit project. A seismic toll surcharge on seven bridges
in the Bay Area will be added to help pay off the loan.
"Through TIFIA [Transportation
Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 1998], we are providing innovative
financing for transportation projects that might otherwise not have received
financing and moved forward," Mineta said. "This particular loan
will help to advance the bridge project, which is vital to the safety and
the mobility of residents and visitors in the Bay Area."
The project will include
the replacement of the east span and the seismic retrofit of the 8.5-mile
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The existing bridge is 60 years old and
carries about 272,000 vehicles a day. Damage to the bridge during the 1989
Loma Prieta earthquake forced the closure of the east span for four weeks.
Subsequent investigation showed the east span probably would not withstand
a significant earthquake. The project completion date is 2007.
The Bay Bridge loan is
estimated to cost the federal government $1.3 million. Therefore, every TIFIA
dollar spent will contribute to more than $2,500 in capital investment. As
the final part in the funding package, the TIFIA loan will combine with capital
market debt, state contributions and the state's federal-aid highway funds
to complete the financing of the $3.3 billion project.