Before California’s leaders allocate even more money to build a bullet train, maybe they should take a closer look at another big infrastructure project recently undertaken in the state. In City Journal, Lloyd Billingsley collects accounts of the mismanagement and corruption that has plagued the new eastern section of the Bay Bridge—a project that was ten years over deadline and $5 billion over budget. But that’s just the beginning, according to a report that had led to a hearing of California’s transportation committee:
A state senate report…charges that Caltrans bosses “gagged and banished” at least nine top bridge engineers, scientists, and other experts. In “closed-door meetings,” transportation department officials reportedly approved “extra millions” for “incentives,” “accelerations,” and “mitigations” to open the bridge by Labor Day last year. Their behavior, the report alleges, amounted to “an institutionalized, if not malicious, lack of transparency in the project. […]Several storms in recent years exposed parts of the bridge to flooding, and corrosion was evident even before the span opened to motorists. A few months before the bridge was scheduled to open last year, dozens of long metal support rods snapped. Metallurgical engineer Lisa Thomas testified that this was due to “hydrogen embrittlement,” a problem Caltrans invited by opting to use Grade BD steel, rather than the more robust Grade BC. Thomas says that hydrogen is to this type of steel “as Kryptonite is to Superman.”
Read the whole thing for a look at the massive dysfunction surrounding this project. Even its harshest critics admit the bridge is probably “safe enough.” But that’s a far cry from being twice as safe as the old Bay Bridge, as union leaders promised and still claim. Waste, delays, shoddy construction—these plague all too many projects CA unions get their hands on. It’s no wonder that the bullet train project has already been plagued by so much corruption. If the project continues, you can expect to see more where that came from.