June 2, 2007

A Miracle-Worker Highway Man Rides the Bonus Train

SAN FRANCISCO, June 1 — Bay Area residents are used to growing old waiting for new roads. Construction of the new Bay Bridge has become a generational event: 13 years to plan and an estimated 11 to build. So after a gasoline tanker truck crashed in April, burning a busy ramp in Oakland that linked parts of the East Bay to San Francisco, drivers grumbled and took to surface streets, convinced their slow-motion commutes would last months.

California officials had estimated that repairs to the collapsed ramp between Interstates 80 and 580 in Oakland would take 50 days.

But the company owned by C. C. Myers, a 6-foot-5 contractor who favors peacock cowboy boots, fixed the mangled freeway so fast that some residents have recalibrated their respect for the California Department of Transportation, which hired him.

The state estimated that repairs to the 165-foot-long ramp between Interstates 80 and 580 would take 50 days and cost $5.2 million. For every day short of the June 26 deadline, it promised a $200,000 bonus, not to exceed a total of $5 million. The highest bid came in at $6.4 million. Mr. Myers's company, C. C. Myers Inc., won with the lowest bid — $867,075 — and completed the project in 17 days, winning the full $5 million.


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