Oakland airport construction project still in limbo

August 5, 2011 8:14:02 PM PDT
President Obama has signed a bill ending the two week partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration. But the political standoff ended up costing $390 million in lost tax revenue, about $30 million a day and halted airport construction projects around the country and in the Bay Area.

The gate remains padlocked and the constructions crews that should be there are not on the job building a brand new, $31 million control tower at Oakland International Airport. The project ground to a standstill two weeks ago, thanks to congressional gridlock on the FAA's budget.

Tim Stayton leads one of the construction crews at the Oakland airport. He says the new FAA funding deal is a mixed blessing.

"Not real sure if we can start the project as quick as they turned it off a couple of weeks ago," Stayton said.

That's because part of his team is now working on an office tower in Santa Clara. Now that there is a congressional deal, getting the crew back to work in Oakland won't be easy and it also won't be cheap.

"Well we've started doing other things as a company; we've laid off manpower," Stayton said.

Stayton says there will be a slight delay in pulling his team back together again -- once he gets the call that the Oakland airport tower project is back on track.

They'll still need to track down key pieces of equipment, like a multimillion dollar super-crane which they were just days from using.

"We were three days away from that day when we got shut down, so now that crane is no longer available, we'll have to find a crane to replace it, which is a pretty big cost," construction worker Tim Rickford said.

In Washington, the standoff ended with a simple legislative procedure that took only two senators and a few seconds to end.

But back in the Bay Area, news of this temporary FAA deal is bittersweet.

"It's great to be going back to work, but the government didn't do their job and here we are facing a huge deficit and here they are just adding to it," Rickford said.


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