July 24, 1996

Dear Editor:

In a particularly eloquent moment Caltrans' spokesman Greg Bayol stated, in reference to a tunnel at Devil's Slide, "We'll reevaluate it and say a tunnel is too expensive". ( Bay Area Section of the San Francisco Chronicle, September 1, 1995). It appears Mr. Bayol was right.

We now have a federally mandated tunnel study underway which will yield an accurate cost estimate for the tunnel based on state-of-the-art engineering and technology. For the Caltrans-endorsed Devil's Slide bypass, we have an old cost estimate which looks laughably low even to an engineering neophyte. By leaving new environmental mitigations and appropriate seismic retrofits out of the equation, Caltrans has provided us with a bargain-basement cost figure for the bypass that will indeed make a tunnel look too expensive.

We must not be fooled. Caltrans' history of grossly underestimating initial costs is infamous and perfectly exemplified in their ham-fisted handling of the seismic retrofits for the Bay Bridge. Initially estimated at $250 million, current costs for the Bay Bridge retrofits ballooned to a horrendous $1.3 billion.

Caltrans must not engage in another "Bay Bridge Boondoggle" at Devil's Slide. We, the tax-payers deserve more from our state Department of Transportation. Mr. Bayol's prophecy must not come true. A realistic cost estimate for the bypass must be forthcoming and this estimate must be verified by an independent source prior to the November election.

Aaron Rudger

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