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Lawmakers Demand To Know Incentives For Bay Bridge Contractors

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A view of the roadway on the new Bay Bridge eastern span. (CBS)

A view of the roadway on the new Bay Bridge eastern span. (CBS)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — State lawmakers want officials overseeing construction of the new eastern portion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to disclose any incentives promised to contractors if the span opens as planned on Labor Day weekend.

Fourteen members of California’s Assembly and Senate said in a letter that public confidence could be damaged if there’s an appearance of a rush to finish the span to meet the deadline.

A committee overseeing the bridge construction approved $293 million in 2010 to fund incentives that would be paid to bridge contractors if the span opens this year.

The opening is now in doubt as crews work to install a repair for 32 cracked seismic safety bolts — important pieces that hold a shock-absorber-like piece called a “shear key” to the bridge deck so that the structure can move safely during a quake.

The bridge is replacing the span damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and the new project is already years late and billions over budget.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, on Wednesday also said an independent audit by the Legislative Analyst’s Office of alleged welding issues on the bridge’s foundation will be expanded to include the bolts.

“I will ask the panel to provide a preliminary report before the bridge opens,” DeSaulnier said in a statement. “Ultimately the decision to open the new Bay Bridge is in the hands of Caltrans and Governor Brown.”

Officials are expected to make a decision about the opening date by July 10.

Bridge officials say the bridge will not open unless it is deemed safe to do so.

“Incentives or no incentives the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge will open when it is safe and not a day before,” Andrew Gordon, a bridge spokesman, said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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