Private contractors build bridge faster and better than government

Wow. The private sector kicks ass again. After the bridge tragedy in Minneapolis along I-35 west, many thought it would take two or three years to rebuild the St. Anthony Bridge. The destroyed bridge – which took 13 lives – was a very important part of the Minneapolis roadway infrastructure; and the governor knew that it needed to be rebuilt fast.

It took less than 14 months to get the bridge designed, built and in operation. Normally, state agencies – monster bureaucracies – act as general contractor for these projects that require excessive regulations concerning the bidding process, design vetting, environmental impact studies and “minority owned” contractor requirements. All of those rules were tossed out in favor of getting the job done on time, at the highest justifiable quality and lowest reasonable cost.

Governor Tim Pawlenty – recently considered as a possible Republican vice president running mate for McCain – used a private sector approach that would build a better bridge faster. By design, the contract stipulated bonuses for finishing the work on time or early, and penalized the contractor if they finished late.

The incentives worked, and the construction firm will gather an extra $25 million now that the project is completed. Not only did the incentives work, Popular Mechanics uncovered additional good news, including greatly improved construction methods, new LED lighting and better concrete.

Hot Air’s post reminds us of the same process that moved the construction along after the Northridge earthquake in California.

This same model worked in California after the Northridge earthquake destroyed or damaged vital freeway overpasses. Traffic, bad enough in Los Angeles even when the overpasses existed, snarled badly without these vital corridors. CalTrans would have taken years to rebuild and repair them. Instead, the state suspended its normal laws and put the contract up for bid, and incentivized speed. The work was done within months, at a lower cost and with at least the same quality as CalTrans work, if not better.

Let’s hear it for the private sector!