Doyle Drive project has unusual funding arrangement

December 31, 2010 7:24:24 PM PST
The Doyle Drive Replacement Project is well underway, but now finding the money to finish the job is uncertain.

The southbound Presidio Parkway viaduct is taking shape alongside the 80-year-old Doyle Drive. A Caltrans animation shows how the $1 billion seismic safety replacement project will look when completed.

The new approach to the Golden Gate Bridge is to be finished with money from a German company, in an unusual funding arrangement called a public-private partnership, or P3.

The union representing 1,300 state engineers, Professional Engineers in California Government, is challenging the legality of that deal, and now it's in the hands of a judge who granted a temporary restraining order against it last week.

"The idea behind a public-private partnership is the private sector is supposed to bring in some money. Well, in this case they're really not. There's no toll, there's no separate revue stream, they're just going to take money out of the state highway account which is your gas tax dollars and mine for the next 30 years," says PECG executive director Bruce Blanning.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority says the law does allow the deal.

"A toll revenue stream is not required in order for this project to move forward, this project does have the funding it needs to proceed," says Jose Luis Moskovich from the SFCTA.

The union says the P3, could mean fewer jobs for its members.

"The concern is a $1 billion in gas tax money is going to be wasted over the next 30 years. It could be used for other projects and those projects would benefit the taxpayers and our members would probably work on them because they're on state highways," says Blanning.

The authority maintains it's good for taxpayers and won't hurt engineer's jobs.

"We are getting a project built with minimal risk of cost overruns, with a certain timeline and a 30-year warranty. How could we go wrong," says Moskovich.

The judge decides Monday whether to extend the TRO. The authority says the project will be finished no matter what.