The sample size is admittedly small, and not all precincts have reported, but residents who've corresponded seem to share a like-minded view of the $5.6 million Bay Bridge opening ceremony planned by the Bay Area Toll Authority.

They think it's the most frivolous, self-indulgent waste of money since Meg Whitman's gubernatorial campaign.

I'm paraphrasing, of course.

Not every column topic strikes a chord with readers, but Monday's apparently sent a jolt of electricity to the nerve endings. Mention of the proposed Labor Day weekend festivities -- the Toll Authority will pay for the logistics to accommodate 125,000 walkers; private funds will be used for other aspects of the gala celebration -- almost immediately elicited fiery emails and online comments.

Let the angry speak for themselves:

"It makes no sense to spend $5.6 million on a party just to celebrate a new way into Oakland when Oakland is in such terrible financial trouble. Couldn't that money go to help their police department or their schools?"

-- Louann

"Do these people not drive on some of the roads in this state? Most are in need of repair, and $5.6 million could help."

-- Julian

"Rather than a party, there should be a memorial service for the 5 billion tax dollars that met an untimely demise in cost overruns."

-- Dave

"I remember when I was on the board of my condo development, and was very surprised to see how easy it was for other board members to spend the condo owners' money. ... Public officials often cannot see that how they spend this 'free money' really represents their personal need to have 'more.'"


Advertisement

-- Walt

"The idea to have a grand party is foolish in times when folks are paying $4 at the pump. Groceries are going up. The job market still isn't where it should be, not even close. But some foolish manager somewhere thinks celebrating a project over budget, late and (built with) questionable materials is a great idea."

--Phil

The best rant came in response to a quote from Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman Randy Rentschler, who challenged everyone to find the silver lining behind the cloud that has engulfed construction of the new east span: "Let's look at it for what it is, not the path we took to get here."

A reader took him at his word.

"OK, it's a grossly overpriced monument to stupidity and failed government. How about that? The reason we have just about the only self-anchored suspension bridge ever built is because it is a stupid design; most bridge engineers are smart enough to design something much better."

-- Russ

If these comments are remotely indicative of the feedback the Toll Authority has received, we can only imagine the sparks and smoke spitting out of their computer screens. Whenever the new bridge was to be opened -- it had to open eventually, right? -- you knew there would be a backslapping, chain-cutting ceremony, but a lot of folks think this one has gotten out of hand. Not that any of this is likely to matter to Toll Authority commissioners.

That reminds us of a comment from a reader who was concerned about the proper use of toll money. "I think it's time to toll the tunnels from the East Bay to the West," she wrote.

Well, sure. How else are we going to pay for the Caldecott's fourth-bore party?

Contact Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follower him at Twitter.com/tombarnidge.