Beachcombing

By: 
Jay Beeler

A recent news story reported that the world’s highest bridge has opened in China, which spans the Beipan River and connects the provinces of Guizhou and Yunnan.

Meanwhile, what is believed to be the world’s most expensive bridge is being built here in Long Beach.

First, a look at the statistics; including a similar cable-stayed bridge in Charleston, SC, that we recently visited:

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston

  • Cost $541 million
  • 13,400 feet long
  • 8 lanes
  • 575 feet high
  • Opened July 2005

Beipanjiang Bridge in China

  • Cost $144 million
  • 4,400 feet long
  • 4 lanes
  • 1,594 feet high
  • Opened December 2016

Gerald Desmond Replacement Bridge in Long Beach

  • Cost $1.5 billion
  • 8,800 feet long
  • 6 lanes
  • 515 feet high
  • Opening in 2018

The Long Beach bridge is one year behind schedule and $500 million over budget.

Long Beach Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzman believes construction is back on track and will be done right. Last summer she said “With a project of this magnitude, you are going to run into challenges. You are going to have engineering questions. Building a cable-stayed bridge along so many fault lines has never been done, really, globally.”

According to a July 2016 Press-Telegram story, “… the project was delayed after Caltrans engineers demanded the ports retool some design elements to ensure the seismic safety of the bridge. The slowdown came after engineers worked for months to clear a maze of oil and gas lines where construction workers were supposed to bore deep into the earth to build out a supporting structure for the bridge.”

 

It will be interesting to see who profited the most from this $500 million error. This kind of incompetence again points out the necessity of having staff members and construction vendors sufficiently competent to foresee the challenges being faced and plan accordingly.

You can expect similar issues during the construction of the new civic center. That project is already over-priced because – as one harbor commissioner told the Beachcomber – city management ignored the opportunity to utilize Tidelands property yielding low-cost finance options.

You can expect the $533 million civic center price tag to increase just as the Belmont Pool has, now priced at $103.7 million – double the original estimate.

 

Ask yourself if Donald Trump would have allowed these cost overruns. Shortly after he was elected president he called for the cancellation of a $4 billion Air Force One from the Boeing Company and promptly achieved a price reduction. Why can’t we have a few more Trump-like commissioners and elected officials that pay attention to the bottom line?

The answer to that question is that term limitations mean that all guilty parties will be termed out of office before the “stuff” hits the fan. Voters are guilty of electing representatives who have been bought and paid for by the public safety unions. The result is that Long Beach now has one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation, thereby driving residents to nearby Orange County to save money on their purchases.

So you can expect to see lots of construction activity around Long Beach over the next few years as public buildings rise and infrastructure gets replaced.

Only your wallet will see any reduction.

 

Neil Gaiman said “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”

Happy New Year!

 publisher@beachcomber.news

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