Herald on Sunday sports editor and sailing reporter Paul Lewis with the latest goings-on in San Francisco, the host city of the 34th America's Cup.
From: Paul Lewis
To: Anyone who's interested
Subject:Troubled bridge over San Fran waters
Emails from San Francisco
Take a look at the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Now imagine a part of it gone after an earthquake. Then think about US$6.4 billion and 24 years spent repairing it.
That's what San Franciscans have endured since the 1989 earthquake when the Bay Bridge (actually two bridges) suffered the collapse of part of the eastern span connecting San Francisco to Oakland.
Now the news has come in that the re-built bridge will open on September 3, Labour Weekend in the US, after being closed for five days to prepare the new bridge for traffic. It's not clear what sort of traffic chaos will apply during that period - the bridge routinely accommodates 280,000 vehicles a day.
Nor is it clear whether that will have any effect on America's Cup fans trying to get to the action as the yachts duke it out on San Francisco Bay, near the bridge.
But what is clear is that bridge is finally opening, after 24 years of delays and budget blow-outs, with only a temporary fix. Three independent authorities have certified that the bridge will be safe with a temporary solution to the earthquake safety bolts which cracked as they were being tightened recently.
That was expected to delay the bridge opening even further - even stretching beyond State Senator Mark DeSaulnier's complaint that the bridge was "10 years late and US$5billion over budget".
But now permanent repairs - able to be done while the bridge is open and taking until December - will not delay the opening, though there will be more than one motorist wondering just how safe his morning drive to work really is.
This has relevance to Auckland for two reasons: When you drive on the Harbour Bridge, drive softly. No one needs 24 years and US$6.4 billion of frustration. At that rate, Auckland's rates will be worth more than the houses.
Secondly, memo to Mayor Len Brown or whoever ends up organising a second crossing. Please give us, the ratepayers, an accurate idea of time and cost. Being 10 years late and 500 per cent over budget doesn't bear thinking about...
Paul Lewis, Herald on Sunday sports editor
- Herald on Sunday