By Tim Hunt
Our wallets will feel impact of Oroville dam repairsUploaded: Feb 16, 2017
What a tough time for managers at CalTrans and public works departments in Northern California because of the heavy rainfall that could reach record levels.
Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains has been down to one lane in each direction, if not closed entirely, for the last week or more. It will remains partially closed while a contractor struggles to get the four lanes re-opened.
Highway 50 between Pollock Pines and Strawberry just re-opened Wednesday after CalTrans cleared a large mudslide. Here’s hoping that the impending rains do not cause more slides just as ski resorts are preparing for the busiest thee-day weekend on President’s Day.
Throw in that Highway 37 is still closed west of Sears Point to Novato by flooding and Highway 35 in the hills above Los Gatos has collapsed and is closed.
And the ACE trains did not run for three days because of flooding in the Delta that required Union Pacific to re-route its freight trains. There was just one train today instead of the normal five.
Those are just the ones that are top of mind—the media has just so much capacity and there’s plenty of news with the evacuation caused by spillway issues with Oroville Dam. Fixing those spillways will be felt in our pockets right here in the valley because Zone 7, the water wholesaler for the Tri-Valley, is one of the 29 State Water Contractors. The contracting agencies likely will foot about 80 percent of the hundreds of millions that it will take to fix the damage.
The costs typically are divided based on usage which means big agricultural users in the San Joaquin Valley and Metropolitan Water District in Southern California will have the largest share. Customers of the Alameda County district (Fremont area) and Santa Clara County water also will be on the hook along with Zone 7 customers.
Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner warned attendees at a San Francisco Business Times event earlier this month that the Bay Area’s economy is rolling so hot that the tight labor market and the increasing cost of living could threaten long-time economic growth. Annual growth in the economy from 2010-2015 averaged 4 percent (more than twice the national level) and Vitner estimated that the Bay Area grew at 5.9 percent last year.
That’s most seen in the skyrocketing housing costs where demand has far out-stripped the supply. The robust job growth sparked increased traffic congestion (remember how easy it was to go south on I-680 in 2008 and 2009) as well as driven up wages as tech companies compete for employees.
We’ve seen the results here in Pleasanton where household income has soared as well-educated professionals, for the most part employed in the tech industry, move here to raise their families.
There’s another interesting factor—for some major employers, their workforce is aging. PG&E has said that 40 percent of its employees are eligible to retire now.