George Boardman: High cost in delay of repairing the Bridgeport Covered Bridge |

George Boardman: High cost in delay of repairing the Bridgeport Covered Bridge

George Boardman
John Hart/ | The Union

Observations from the center stripe: SF values edition

A RECENT study of the Tahoe region’s economy found the same problems we have here: Expensive housing and low-paying service jobs. The average cost of a home is 10 times that of the average salary. The ratio’s only 8-to-1 in San Francisco … THE SCHEDULING of the Democratic presidential debates — most recently, in the middle of a three-day weekend against prime time television competition — suggests they don’t want anybody to actually watch the debates … GIVEN HILLARY Clinton’s mounting problems with her email server, Joe Biden should expect a call from the Democratic National Committee any day now … THE DEATH rate of white males from drug overdoses has increased fives times for those 25 to 34 and three times for those 35 to 44. Explain to me again how we’re winning the “War on Drugs” … CORD CUT: For the first time since 2007, less than 100 million homes have cable TV service ... IS IT just by imagination, or are pickup trucks and SUVs the only vehicles on the roads? …

We learned earlier this month that the cost to repair our beloved Bridgeport Covered Bridge has tripled to $3.9 million and that the work is likely to stretch beyond 2018 — seven years after the bridge was closed.

But that’s par for the course in the slow-moving effort to save the longest single span wood covered bridge in the world, supposedly a local treasure and big tourist attraction.

The bridge, which opened for traffic in 1862, was closed in the fall of 2011 after years of decay made it unsafe. The state Parks and Recreation Department said in April of 2012 that it would cost $680,000 to repair the bridge, and that work could begin as early as July 2012.

But nothing happened until the following January, when the repair estimate increased to $1.2 million. That’s when the county Board of Supervisors and local city councils finally got involved, urging the state legislature to appropriate the money. A total of $1.3 million was included in the state’s 2014-15 budget, with work set to be completed by 2018.

The state reassessed the project last December and concluded it will now cost $3.9 million to restore the bridge. Some of the extra money is for unforeseen issues that are likely to come up as the repair work progresses, and the rest is for increased construction costs — the kind of cost increases that occur when a project is delayed indefinitely.

The parks and rec staff said requests for additional funds will have to wait until all of the necessary permits are completed. That means it could be another 24 months before construction can begin — about the time the work was supposed to be completed.

With any luck, the bridge may reopen 10 years after it was closed.

Better intel

One of the reasons given for enacting an “emergency” ban on the outdoor cultivation of marijuana in Nevada County was the March 1 deadline to act before the state sets the rules for counties.

When it was pointed out that a bill removing the deadline was making its way through the state Legislature, Sheriff Keith Royal told the Board of Supervisors AB 21 had passed the state Assembly but was currently dead in the Senate. He said the political intel came from the county’s lobbyist.

Well, AB 21 was approved 7-0 with one abstention by the state Senate Health Committee last week, and could come up for a vote by the full Senate today. Maybe Nevada County needs better intel.

If elected …

Somebody with a perverse sense of humor is spreading the rumor that I’m going to run for the Board of Supervisors in District 2. The rumor has surfaced on the Internet and a prominent member of the local medical marijuana movement asked the publisher of this paper if it’s true.

I have no intention of disrupting my enjoyable retirement by running for office at any level, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t be a viable candidate. It occurred to me several years ago that I wouldn’t make a good elected official because I’m too stubborn to make the compromises required to get anything done. Clearly, my time has arrived.

But there are downsides to running for office. While I have no personal skeletons that concern me, I’m far from perfect. A relative by marriage who thinks I’m a Commie pinko would probably start a guerilla campaign on Facebook documenting my many faults, such as my aversion to hard physical labor and the likelihood I’ll fall asleep on his recliner after eating a large meal at their home.

My wife had a long career successfully marketing everything from taco chips to silicon chips, and I’m sure she could create an effective media campaign for me. But she’s used to working for clients with big budgets and that could create tension at the dinner table; why spend a lot of money to get a job that pays less than $50,000 a year?

Then there’s the need to engage in retail politics. I’m not a glad-hander and I’m terrible at remembering names and faces. If I met you once two years ago I probably don’t remember it, unless you did something that really annoyed me.

If I ran for office, The Union would take away my column and might give it to somebody who would be really critical of the candidates. Like everybody else, I get thin-skinned when I’m criticized in public.

The Union occasionally runs vicious hit pieces slamming one of my fact-based, well-reasoned, skillfully written columns. When that happens, I just sit still and hum “Don’t Worry Be Happy” until my blood pressure returns to normal.

If I get involved in the upcoming election, it will be to support John Palmer of Nevada City in District 1. In case you missed it, Palmer announced his “candidacy” last week in a letter to the editor in which he mentioned 16 things he doesn’t know about marijuana, which he said makes him a good fit with the current Board of Supervisors.

Given the preference of many area residents for continuity over disruption, that makes him a strong candidate. Go John go.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union.

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