Tunnel Costs Competitive with Bypass;
Consultant Deems Tunnel "Reasonable and Prudent"
Politicians View Tunnel Funds Favorably
On Monday, October 7, Caltrans released figures that allow the best comparison to date of tunnel and bypass costs:
These figures include maintenance costs over 35 years.
- Bypass costs: $117 million. These are preliminary results of updating Caltrans' earlier estimates to take into account factors like additional bridges not covered in the original design.
- Tunnel costs: $117 - $131 million for the lowest-cost option, according to Gordon Marsh of tunnel consultants Woodward-Clyde, depending on what's included in the design. This tunnel would have two 29-foot wide bores. Other designs, including a four-lane tunnel, could run up to $148 million.
The consultants presented a total of seven tunnel designs, each with a high-, low- and average-estimated price, so you'll hear a wide range of tunnel prices.
These figures are based on design studies that are considered unusually complete for this stage of a construction project, and actual costs are not expected to vary much from these estimates.
County Supervisor Ted Lempert noted that "it is not clear here that a tunnel is necessarily more expensive than a bypass." The completed formal report is expected by October 15.
Meanwhile, Ralph Trapani, a consultant hired by the County to assist with the tunnel study, said Monday that the tunnel is a "reasonable and prudent approach" to Devil's Slide.
What Elected Officials Say About Funding...
These quotes are from the San Jose Mercury News, Sunday, October 6
- Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo) "If voters in my district choose the tunnel alternative, I will bust my gut to see that it is funded."
- Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) "If this is what the people want, then it's important for the members of the Bay Area delegation to roll up their sleeves and go to work for the people."
- Norm Mineta "If the costs are relatively equal, the whole issue of bypass or tunnel I think becomes moot. If this tunnel is the locally preferred alternative, we ought to go with the community rather than jam another approach down their throats." Norm Mineta is a former longtime chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Cost estimates are as reported in the San Francisco Chronicl and the San Jose Mercury News of October 8
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