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State legislature passes oversight bill for transportation 'megaprojects'

Bill inspired by investigation of Bay Bridge project, DeSaulnier says

State legislators have signed off on a bill introduced by State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) targeting how public agencies manage large-scale transportation projects in California.

The Public Works Project Oversight Improvement Act, Senate Bill 969, would require administering agencies of transportation "megaprojects" -- projects with a total cost exceeding $1 billion -- to establish a peer review system as well as a risk management and reassessment plan.

SB 969 would require administering agencies to consult a peer review group on planning, engineering, financing and other plans for the transportation megaproject.

Administering agencies would also be required to compile a risk management plan in order to quantify risks financially, track and control identified risks and regularly update cost estimates.

"The problems faced during the construction of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge have illustrated the need to increase the transparency of state agencies involved in transportation megaprojects," said DeSaulnier, whose district includes the San Ramon Valley.

"SB 969 establishes comprehensive risk management plans at the beginning of megaproject development, so that the public is given a transparent look at financial risks," he added.

The bill would mandate agencies make available to the public a list of all engineers in charge of work on the megaproject. The bill also states that it would impose a state-mandated local program and would require state reimbursement to local agencies for costs accrued because of the mandates.

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