By Don Ford

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) – The cost to replace an aging Highway 101 off-ramp that handles thousands of cars a day has soared beyond the original projections. The road crosses over a creek as it feeds traffic from 101 northbound onto Irwin and Second streets.

The ramp dates back to the 1940s and is at risk of failing in the event of a major earthquake.

The backup there is a daily headache for commuters. Caltrans planned to fix it, but there’s a problem with the fix.

The original estimate to repair and modernize this nearly half century old off ramp was $12.5 million. When bids came back from contractors, the cost jumped to $17 million.

“The Bids were higher than what our engineer estimated so we didn’t have the funds to award it,” said Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney.

It’s a complex project. There is a 78-year-old bridge spanning a creek. There will be additional lanes and finally a shoulder. Caltrans says while the project is still a priority, everything is going to be delayed until 2020.

“We’re going to try to get it back out to bid. Soon. Then we’ll work with the contractor to move it quickly,” explains Ney.

Meanwhile, folks who use the off-ramp are not happy.

“Not surprised in Marin County,” said one driver. “Everything takes forever to get done around here.”

Shanda was passing through from Santa Rosa.

“Just sitting in traffic or sitting in that off ramp should have been fixed long ago, just adds to that aggravation, adds to that frustration,” she said.

Tom Hunter is a professional driver. “The pavement is shot!” said Tom Hunter. He is a professional driver.

“Big Chunks missing from all three lanes, or four lanes,” he said.

Caltrans says the additional monies have been approved and once the project gets started, they will be using accelerated bridge construction methods to finish as quickly as they can.

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