Citizen Marin

MTC commissioners allowing themselves to be misled on building costs

MTC commissioners allowing themselves to be misled on building costs

Contra Costa Times | Daniel Borenstein | posted: 12/19/2014

The executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has once again deceived his board and the public about costs and financing for the agency’s legally questionable real estate speculation.

At issue are misguided plans to use toll-bridge money for a new regional government center in downtown San Francisco housing MTC, Association of Bay Area Governments, Bay Area Air Quality Management District and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

In 2011, MTC bought a 1942 building constructed by the Navy to provide assembly facilities for government projects. The $167 million project to purchase, gut and rehab the structure has ballooned 53 percent to $256 million. It won’t be completed until December 2015, two years behind schedule.

Most cost increases haven’t been due to unforeseeable expenses, but rather Executive Director Steve Heminger’s failure to perform due diligence and include basic items in original estimates.

Three years ago, Heminger tried to ram through commission approval of the project without providing long-term finances, downside risks or assumptions essential for putting the deal together.

After criticism of the deal in this column, Heminger finally provided an analysis purportedly showing the bridge toll money for the project would be recouped over 30 years.

Complete article here.