Pols pledge initial $2 million
for MacArthur Maze repairs
By Matt Wynkoop
May 4, 2007
State and federal representatives visited the damaged portion
of the MacArthur Maze today to tour the wreckage and announce
that $2 million in initial federal emergency relief has been allocated
to cover the cost of repairing the portion of the interchange
damaged in a fiery tanker truck crash Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters joined U.S. Senator
Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and U.S. representatives
Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and James
Oberstar, D-Minn., to tour of the site so they could see what
kinds of repairs were required.
"We're not going to let funding for the Maze get tied up
in a web of bureaucracy,'' Secretary Peters said during a news
conference held near the sections of Interstate Highways 580 and
80 that were destroyed in the gasoline-fuelled blaze.
Peters said the department has made the funds immediately available
to help get damaged portions open and drivers moving again.
The $2 million is planned as the first installment of more federal
funds, which are expected to follow once the total cost for the
project is determined.
Peters also said that an estimated $4 million to $6 million per
day is lost in time and economic productivity due to the collapse.
"It was important for us to come here and see how this disaster
is affecting commuters and businesses, she said.
California Department of Transportation Director Will Kempton
said the state plans to have a contract proposal for the project
finished by Monday night, with construction likely to begin Tuesday.
The total cost for the reconstruction of the collapsed portion
of the Maze has been estimated at around $20 million.
Kempton said Caltrans is considering stockpiling roadway constructive
materials across the state to ensure that the entire California
roadway system has the resources needed to quickly become safe
again in the instance of another disaster.
Each of the state and federal representatives pledged they would
do everything possible to ensure the federal government works
as a close partner with the state in completing the reconstruction
project and to reimburse state costs already accumulated.
As Boxer toured the demolition site she said the federal government
would reimburse all of the state's reconstruction costs if work
finishes within six months.
Boxer also thanked the people of the Bay Area for making use
of public transit in recent days and praised Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
for declaring the collapse a disaster immediately.
Bay Area Rapid Transit has seen its passenger count soar in the
days since the fire.
"This incident shows how important alternative transportation
is to California,'' Boxer said.
"We'll see if we can't reimburse the state for cost on transportation
Fielding questions about whether the kind of steel melted by
the 8,600 gallons of fuel that engulfed the connector ramp and
caused the structure to collapse will be available, Oberstar said
there is no shortage of the American-made steel required for use
in domestic funding projects such as this.
The southbound Interstate Highway 880 connector is expected to
be reopened to traffic by May 12, according to Kempton.
Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication,
Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent
of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.