SAN FRANCISCO — A Superior Court judge has lifted a temporary restraining order that blocked a public-private partnership set to rebuild the southern link to the Golden Gate Bridge.
As a result of the decision, transportation officials signed the agreement sealing the partnership Monday, according to Mike Bowman. spokesman for the California Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne Carvill pulled the temporary restraining order Monday and denied a request for a preliminary injunction that would have blocked the deal between transportation agencies and an international consortium to design, build, operate, and maintain the Presidio Parkway project.
A public employee union sued to block the agreement, in which a private consortium is to receive annual payments for meeting goals to design, build, and operate the parkway, which will replace the decrepit Doyle Drive approach to the bridge that was built in the 1930s.
The petitioners “are unlikely to meet the standard for the issuance of a permanent injunction,” Carvill said in his 26-page ruling. “In other words, they are unlikely to succeed on the merits of any claim that would entitle them to enjoin the project.”
In November, the Professional Engineers in California Government sued to block the P3 agreement, alleging in their lawsuit that transportation authorities are “wasting nearly $1 billion on a no-bid P3 contract which is not authorized by statute.”
They want the project returned to a traditional procurement, under which the California Department of Transportation employees represented by the union would handle engineering work. PECG represents about 13,000 state employees, primarily highway engineers.
The Caltrans and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority awarded the project to Golden Link Partners, led by Hochtief AG and Meridiam Infrastructure. Golden Link will receive $28 million in availability payments annually for 30 years if it meets performance targets for operating and maintaining the roadway.
Carvill’s decision paved the way for the agreement to be signed, giving Golden Link a finalized contract to build and design the second phase of the project as well as operate the facility for 30 years.
“This vital project will benefit the public in numerous ways,” Bowman said in a statement Monday. “The private sector has an important role to play in meeting our transportation infrastructure needs throughout the state.”
Their proposal includes the use of $150 million of private-activity bonds to cover part of the estimated $358 million price tag for Golden Link’s part of the project.
Judge Carvill set the next hearing on the lawsuit for Jan. 21.
“Signing the lease agreement is a huge burden on the taxpayers,” Bruce Blanning, PECG’s executive director, said in a statement Monday.
The Presidio Parkway would be the first California project financed under P3 legislation lawmakers approved in 2009, with strong support from then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The PECG cites support from some lawmakers and the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office, which notes that the project does not meet one of the key objectives of the P3 legislation because it does not bring any new revenue to the table.
“We do not think the Presidio project is a good fit for a P3 procurement approach because the project is already very far along in its schedule and does not rely on a toll or user fee to fund its work,” the LAO said this month in a letter to Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.