OAKLAND -- Incentive payments to a Bay Bridge contractor will not drive the targeted Labor Day opening for the new span, a Bay Area transportation agency leader reassured state lawmakers Friday.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission Executive Director Steve Heminger, in a letter responding to legislators' concerns, wrote: "Whether the new east span is opened to traffic on Labor Day or at a later date will be determined exclusively by whether it is safe to do so."
Specifically, repairs on the seismic stabilizers on the pier east of the main tower where very large steel anchor rods broke in March must be completed before the span can open, Heminger said.
Second, the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee, its peer review panel and the Federal Highway Administration must agree that the remaining 2,210 high-strength steel bolts on the bridge are structurally sound, Heminger said.
Lawmakers from the Bay Area sent a letter to Heminger earlier this week seeking details about financial incentives promised contractors for getting the bridge open on time. The 14 legislators who signed the letter are worried financial reward may lead to unsafe shortcuts, especially in light of public concerns about construction setbacks on the span, including busted bolts, bad welds and rusted tendons.
The bridge team has scheduled a July 10 briefing at which it will update the Bay Area Toll Authority on whether the bridge can open to traffic as scheduled on Sept. 3.
The contractor incentive is independent of the bolts, Heminger said. American Bridge/Fluor Enterprises, the joint venture building the self-anchored suspension segment, is eligible for a maximum $20 million bonus on its $1.4 billion contract if it completes all predetermined items on a seismic safety opening readiness list by Aug. 28.
The list includes "major structural work, critical mechanical and electrical systems work, removal of all above deck and tower false work, and painting and paving activities," according to the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee.
The bridge team negotiated the contractor incentives in 2010 -- long before the bolt problems surfaced -- as part of its push to get the long overdue seismic safety replacement project back on schedule.
American Bridge/Fluor Enterprises has already earned $16.4 million in incentives for early completion of the two large steel deck sections on the east end of the suspension span that contain the anchorage.
The team also offered an additional $16.8 million in incentives for early completion of adjacent contracts. Under these provisions, the joint venture was paid $7.5 million, while MCM, a highway and bridge contractor, earned $9.3 million.