SACRAMENTO /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced that bids opened to build the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel, a long-awaited project that will remove a bottleneck on busy Route 24 between Oakland and central Contra Costa County. The Caldecott Tunnel project will deliver congestion relief for the 160,000 motorists who travel the corridor daily while also delivering significant economic benefits to the region, even before its’ ribbon-cutting. Four bids were opened and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will review the apparent low bid, by Tutor-Saliba Corporation of Sylmar, California, to ensure it meets all contract requirements.

“Today the long-awaited Caldecott Tunnel project took a big step forward toward becoming a reality, made possible through state and local dollars and our actions to secure federal funds,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This project will reduce local traffic congestion while creating nearly 6,000 jobs for California – and is a solid investment in the future of the Bay Area’s transportation infrastructure.”

Financing for the project, estimated at $420 million, comes from state, local and federal funds. This includes $11 million from Proposition 1B, the transportation bond championed by the Governor and approved by voters in 2006, as well as the $197.7 million the state secured from the federal government through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act).

This project is scheduled to begin in late 2009/early 2010. Contractor bids include the cost of completing work as well as the number of days required before the tunnel is opened to traffic. The project has set a goal of hiring at least 3 percent of its contracted amount for underutilized, disadvantaged business enterprises.

The project is a partnership between Caltrans, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency. Work crews will build a two-lane, two-thirds mile long tunnel north of the existing three bores. Upon completion, the new bore and the existing northernmost bore will be permanently dedicated to westbound traffic, while the two southernmost bores will carry eastbound traffic. The new configuration will eliminate the current situation where workers at the tunnel must reverse the traffic direction in the center bore twice a day to accommodate the morning and evening commutes and the consistently shifting traffic patterns on busy weekends.

Championed by the Governor and approved by voters in the November 2006 general election, Proposition 1B enacted the Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act of 2006 to authorize $19.9 billion of state general obligation bonds for specified purposes. To date, more than $13.1 billion has been committed to 1,492 projects across the state for high-priority transportation corridor improvements, state highway safety and rehabilitation projects, local street and road improvement, congestion relief, and traffic safety, among several other projects to improve California’s aging infrastructure. For more information on the amounts allocated to specific programs, please visit:

California leads the nation having more than $2 billion in Recovery Act funding federally obligated to 675 highway and local street transportation projects statewide. Of these, 222 projects worth nearly $1.39 billion have already been awarded. California was the first state in the nation to obligate $1 billion of Recovery Act transportation funding – doing so a full two months ahead of the federal June 30, 2009 deadline.