Built during the Depression, the span opened to traffic in 1936.

Prospects for completion of the controversial $6-billion Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge retrofit took a giant step forward on March 22. The California Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee announced that it received two bids for the Self-Anchored Suspension portion of the eastern span. Two years ago, only one bid came in, significantly over engineers' estimate, prompting months of controversy and delay.

The apparent low bidder was a joint venture of Coraopolis, Pa.-based American Bridge/Fluor Enterprises, which priced the job at $1.43 billion‹slightly lower than the California Dept. of Transportation estimate of $1.45 billion. The second bid by Omaha, Neb-based Kiewit/Koch Skanska/Manson joint venture was for $1.68 billion. Kiewit Pacific Co. is the lead in a joint venture currently working on the bridge foundations.

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  • American Bridge led a joint venture including Nippon Steel Bridge that stepped forward as the sole $1.4 billion bidder in 2004 when Caltrans had estimated the job at half that amount. The price tag set off a political debate over the need for a signature design and who bore responsibility for paying for the bridge. When the controversy settled down and the job was rebid in August, 2005, officials worried the bidding would not be competitive enough. In Febuary, the bid date was extended to give bidders more time to put together teams. Six months was added to the construction schedule and a $5 million stipend was offered to qualified bidders.

    Caltrans still has a month to assess the bids and will award the contract in late April. Subcontractor hiring and design could take a year and traffic could begin flowing in late 2013.