Californians will vote March 26 on a $2 billion general obligation bond issue to finance phase two of the state's seismic retrofit program. Suppliers of polymer composite column-wrapping systems could capture some of the bridge, overpass and interchange work that Proposition 192 would fund. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the California Transportation Department identified 1,039 bridges to be retrofitted in phase one. Gas tax revenues are funding that work, now under way.
Following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Caltrans listed another 1,209 bridges, and seven state-owned toll bridges, for retrofitting in phase two.
Construction interests favor the proposition and back Californians for Safe Highways and Bridges, an ad hoc group with a projected $2.5 million campaign.
``Failure will delay - by two to four years - most transportation projects and cancel a number of others altogether,'' the group said.
A lead opponent for some taxpayer and environmental groups, Assemblyman Bernie Richter calls the proposition ``a classic example of back room, good-old-boy deal-making that benefits a favored bureaucratic class at the expense of all of California's taxpayers.''
The issue allocates $700 million to retrofit toll bridges in the San Francisco Bay area. Richter, a Republican from Chico, says bridge users ``will be forced to pay twice'' when they pay the toll and again in gasoline and road taxes. Also, he said the issue shortchanges other parts of the state.
Legislators chose in 1995 to let voters decide on the issue. If voters reject Proposition 192 in March, they'll have a second chance.
The issue would reappear on the November ballot.
The state's general fund would repay the $2 billion principal and $1.4 billion interest over 25 years at about $136 million per year.