Doyle Drive financing questioned

The financial plan to pay for the Doyle Drive rebuild has come under criticism from a state agency.

The roadway, which is a key artery to the Golden Gate Bridge, is being rebuilt and funded through a private consortium of investors and construction firms that will be responsible for the $488 million second phase of the project.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority, a local planning agency, and Caltrans, the state transportation department, will pay the private group $170 million up front, but the rest of the money will be dispensed over 30 years. Under the pact, the public agencies can withhold money if maintenance standards are not met.

This is the first agreement of its kind in the state, but the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan advisory group, said the project would benefit more from a traditional funding plan.

In a new report, the office said the agreement puts too much financial risk on the state, puts scheduling projections in doubt and breaks up the continuity of the project, since the first phase was funded in a traditional manner.

Lee Saage, the project manager for the Doyle Drive rebuild, said those issues have been raised before.

“The LAO is an animal of the California state Legislature, and they’re accustomed to doing analysis on conventional methods,” Saage said. “Public-private partnerships are something new, and we’re not surprised that LAO is a little uncomfortable with them.”

Saage said he still feels confident that the public-private partnership plan is the right move. Using its new funding model, the SFCTA projects to save $150 million.

Along with the negative report from the LAO, the Doyle Drive project is dealing with a lawsuit from a group of professional engineers. Under that suit, which was filed in Alameda County last month, the Professional Engineers in California Government sued Caltrans and the SFCTA in a bid to stop the public-private partnership plan from moving forward.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsSan FranciscoSan Francisco County Transportation AuthoritySFCTATransittransportation

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