The Sacramento Bee » Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrated when the California Transportation Commission voted, despite a host of warnings, to pay a contractor more than $1 billion to build two tunnels and a stretch of road outside San Francisco nine years ago. Now the project, known as the Presidio Parkway, is more than two years late and $208 million over budget. When the commission approved another $34 million in delay-related spending last month, two commissioners who originally opposed the project lamented their predictions had come true. “This has been a fiasco from the beginning,” Commissioner Bob Alvarado said at the March 14 meeting.
The New York Times » Long before the Morandi Bridge collapsed in Genoa, Italy, last year, killing 43 people, an economics professor named Marco Ponti took aim at the private company that managed the structure, raising two fundamental concerns. One was money. Mr. Ponti argued that Autostrade per l’Italia, or Highways for Italy, which managed the bridge and more than half of Italy’s 4,000 miles of toll roads, made “abnormal” profits. The other was the lopsided power balance between Autostrade and the Italian government. Mr. Ponti, who served on an expert panel advising the government, said ministries did too little to regulate the company. Taxpayers were being shorn “like flocks of sheep,” Mr. Ponti said in a newspaper interview in 2003.
The Washington Post » Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that Virginia has selected a contractor to build two new tunnels and widen a major highway in Hampton Roads. The $3.3 billion price tag — funded by regional gas and sales taxes, tolls and other sources — makes it one of the two biggest transportation projects in commonwealth history.
Governing » The need is indeed enormous. The American Society of Civil Engineers has graded the nation’s infrastructure as a D+ and warned that its deterioration is harming the nation’s ability to compete in the global economy. In the early days after Trump’s inauguration, Republican strategist Steve Bannon predicted that infrastructure would give the president an added bonus, the key to “an entirely new political movement, as exciting as the 1930s,” even “greater than the Reagan revolution.” It was such a good idea, the White House believed, that Trump’s team boosted the target to $1.5 trillion. But nearly two years after the election, the plan is by all reports dead. Everyone seems to love the idea of investment in infrastructure, but no one has figured out how to pay for it.