SAN FRANCISCO — A Superior Court judge in California has denied a lawsuit brought by a public employees' union that sought to block a plan for a public-private partnership to rebuild a road linking San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne Carvill denied the Professional Engineers in California Government's suit to shut down the deal between state and local transportation agencies and an international consortium to design, build, operate, and maintain the Presidio Parkway Project.
"Even where [the California Department of Transportation] performs work itself, the statute allows it to use consultants rather than its own employees," Carvill wrote in his 36-page decision issued Friday.
The Presidio project involves the replacement of the southern approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, known as Doyle Drive, with a six-lane parkway. The U.S. Department of Transportation has described the project as one of the nation's largest, most complex and labor-intensive highway projects.
PECG sued in November to block the P3 deal, alleging that Caltrans and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority were wasting nearly $1 billion on a no-bid contract unauthorized by state statute.
Last month, Carvill denied the PECG's request for a temporary injunction and restraining order.
The union wanted the project to return to traditional procurement with Caltrans employees represented by the union handling the engineering work. PECG represents about 13,000 state employees, primarily highway engineers.
PECG spokeswoman Lisa Burcar said in a statement that the union would appeal the ruling to the California Court of Appeal.
Caltrans and the SFCTA awarded the project in October to Golden Link Partners, led by Hochtief AG and Meridiam Infrastructure.
Golden Link will receive $28 million in payments annually for 30 years if it meets performance targets for operating and maintaining the roadway.
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.
"The agreement provides taxpayers with good value for their money by transferring some financial risk from the state to the private developer," said Michael Bowman, a spokesman for the state Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency, which oversees Caltrans.
The Presidio project will be one of the first projects financed under legislation approved by state lawmakers in 2009 that was part of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's push for greater use of P3 financing.
The new roadway will replace a 1.5-mile portion of U.S. Highway 101 that is 73 years old.
The parkway has two major phases. The first one, which is underway, will upgrade the road to meet earthquake-safety standards by late October 2011.
The second phase will complete major construction and finish the project by spring 2014.