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State Court Drops Caltrans Engineers Presidio Parkway P3 Appeal

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An appeal filed to overturn a decision to hire a public-private partnership to build the second phase of San Francisco’s Presidio Parkway replacement project was dismissed this week by the state’s court of appeal, first district, in Alameda.

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The Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) filed the appeal earlier this year after a superior court judge dropped PECG’s temporary restraining order and Caltrans announced the winning P3 consortium.

PECG has been fighting the P3 concept for the Presidio Parkway project since it was announced last summer. In 2009, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed off on a state senate bill to test the P3 waters on appropriate transportation projects. Caltrans announced its intention of awarding the contract to a consortium around Germany-based HOCHTIEF Concessions in November (the Golden Link Concessionaire includes a HOCHTIEF subsidiary, Flatiron, Longmont, Colo.).

PECG’s basic argument was that the P3 conversion of the project “abandons competitive bidding, doubles the cost of the project, denies 58 counties money to build local projects and create jobs, and piles millions of dollars in new debt on California taxpayers.”

Not true, counters Paul Meyer, executive director of the American Council of Engineering Cos. California.

Alleging that the work would go to foreign engineers and workers is a “pure smokescreen with no basis in fact,” Meyer said. “PECG’s real motivation is to prevent Caltrans and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority from using private-sector engineering firms located in California from working on and speeding up delivery of this badly needed project.”

The P3 contract is worth $488 million (the whole project is budgeted at $1 billion). Golden Link will design, construct, finance, operate and maintain Presidio Parkway for 33 years.

PECG’s main points in the appeal was that phase 2 did not qualify as a P3 under the state’s Streets and Highway Code, since Caltrans would not be deemed the responsible agency and the project would not be financed by tolls. The judge dismissed those arguments.

Construction on the second phase is scheduled to begin later this year and continue through early 2015. It involves the construction of a new northbound bridge and Battery Tunnel, the Main Post Tunnels and the Doyle Drive/Girard Road/Marina Boulevard/Richardson Avenue interchange.

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