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Unanswered Questions on Freeway Cost

November 25, 1988

On Oct. 8 you ran an article headlined "Cost of Ventura Freeway Project May Double." As a member of the community committee that reviewed the proposed widening plan and considered the high-occupancy vehicle lane question, I am shocked your reporters haven't exposed the real story behind the reported increase in the projected costs of the freeway project. There are many unanswered questions.

1. Did Caltrans intentionally underestimate the cost of the project so they could come back later to request federal funds, thereby forcing a diamond lane against the will of the people?

2. Is Caltrans estimating so incompetent that it can't estimate the difference between a $20-million and a $40-million project?

3. Did the contractor make the low bid for this project knowing he could come back a year later and double his price, thereby beating out another contractor who bid $40 million in the first place?

4. Was this a fixed price or cost-plus contract? Is the contractor being let out of his contact through political pressure?

If this were a defense contract, the L.A. Times would be beating the drum for a congressional investigation. The same level of concern should be shown of civilian appropriations.


West Hills

Rothenberg is president of the West Hills Homeowners Assn.

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