State Library Research Bureau clarifies Bay Bridge muddle

The State Library’s California Research Bureau (CRB) offers specialized library services to unique users. Working for lawmakers and other elected officials, CRB researchers gather and analyze data from disparate sources and then consolidate it in annotated reports for those California policymakers.

One of the most recent CRB reports, Timeline of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Seismic Retrofit: Milestones in Decision-Making, Financing, and Construction, chronicles the delays and funding battles of retrofitting and ultimately rebuilding the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The Timeline culls crucial events from the mountains of reports and analyses connected to the Bay Bridge project and lays out the events briefly and chronologically to assist decision-makers in moving forward with this important project.

Assemblywoman Wilma Chan requested the report from the CRB in an effort to provide a clearer understanding of the Bay Bridge retrofit history, including the fact that the bridge’s cost has risen from $2.6 billion in 2001 to $5.1 billion today. Chan says, “Anyone who wants a straightforward account of the history of the Bay Bridge retrofit saga will find this report invaluable.”

Chan, chair of Joint Legislative Audits Committee at the time of the Bay Bridge request, represents the 16th Assembly District in Alameda County, which includes the cities of Oakland, Piedmont, and Alameda. She had previously used the CRB to create visual displays showing traffic congestion and highway projects in Alameda and Contra Costa counties 

The CRB’s research requests, like Chan’s for the Bay Bridge retrofit, can turn into front page headlines, so the CRB combines the expertise of librarians and researchers to ensure a meticulous product.

For the Timeline, CRB researcher Daniel Pollak, a M.S. in environmental policy and a former research assistant at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control, teamed with CRB information services staff members Dan Mitchel and Carolyn Zeitler, to locate and analyze 124 online, State Library and Caltrans library sources related to the Bay Bridge and to sift through Oakland’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission hard copy file documents.

The resulting annotated chronology’s purpose was not to tell the reader what to think about the Bay Bridge controversy, but to put in sequence the often confusing and tangled events that led to the current predicament.



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