Another Cost Overrun on Government Infrastructure

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From the Wall Street Journal, here’s the latest evidence on quality and efficiency in government infrastructure spending:

New questions were raised about the construction quality of one of the nation’s most vital commuter links when engineers who worked on a Bay-area bridge that replaced one damaged in a 1989 earthquake said Friday that bridge officials routinely brushed aside their concerns.

The engineers’ testimony came at a hearing in Sacramento, where lawmakers also grilled bridge officials about the $6.4 billion eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which ran into long delays and cost overruns before opening last fall.

The project was beset by political wrangling, delays, construction issues, and cost overruns. The original estimate for the bridge was $1.4 billion, according to the report.

James Merrill, an engineer hired for quality assurance, testified that his firm raised concerns about cracked welds on steel deck pieces being built in China. But he said bridge officials discounted the reports and instructed him “multiple times” that “you’re not to put it in writing.” Mr. Merrill said the request was made so that the concerns would not become public.