Friday Must Reads: Bay Bridge Contractor to Get Big Bonus if Span Opens on Time; Alameda County Median Home Price Tops $500,000



Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. American Bridge/Fluor Enterprises, the contractor building the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, stands to receive a $20 million bonus if the bridge opens on time on Labor Day, the CoCo Times reports. The huge incentive is worrying some lawmakers who question whether it will drive a rush to completion. The bridge has been plagued with construction defects, including broken bolts and bad welds.

  • Whitney Phaneuf/file photo
2. The median home price in Alameda County reached $512,000 last month, the highest in more than five years and a 24.7 percent gain over May 2012, the Mercury News reports. Contra Costa County’s median home price jumped 38 percent over last year to $421,000. Real estate experts once again attributed the big price jumps to a lack of homes on the market. The number of homes sold was down more than 10 percent last month in Alameda County compared to last year.

3. A coalition of prosecutors, police, politicians, and consumer advocates called on major smartphone makers yesterday to install kill switches on their devices to help curb the smartphone robbery epidemic nationwide, the Associate Press reports. Kill switches would automatically render smartphones inoperable after they’re stolen, and thus make them worthless to thieves. But smartphone makers have refused to install kill switches because a consumer must buy a new phone when his or her phone is stolen, thereby creating a financial boon for the industry. Apple announced earlier this week that it was going to install kill switches on new iPhones but law enforcement officials say they’re concerned that the device may not really be a kill switch.

4. California’s high speed rail system received the green-light from a federal transportation panel yesterday, but state officials must maneuver around several more potential roadblocks before they can break ground on the new system, the LA Times$ reports.

5. And state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones wants Anthem/Blue Cross barred from the state’s new health exchange for small businesses under Obamacare because the company has a long history of huge rate hikes, the LA Times$ reports.