Thursday, August 2, 2012

California High Speed Rail Details Emerging

Now that the California legislature has approved a $4.5 billion bond issue in order to claim $3.2 billion from federal taxpayers toward construction of a promised high speed rail link between Los Angeles and San Francisco, details of the difficulties faced in actually building the railroad tracks for these bullet trains are beginning to be released for public consumption. Here are just a few notes from detailed analysis of the proposed routing for the first 130 mile segment from Madera to Fresno, to be built at a cost of $2.6 billion out of the total budget of $68.4 billion for the entire project:

The California Department of Transportation anticipates it will cost $226 million and take three years to relocate a short stretch of highway 99 through Fresno where the roadway now nestles right up against the Union Pacific rail yards between Ashlan and Clinton Avenues. In order to make room for the bullet train tracks, 2.5 miles of the road will have to be torn up and replaced about 100 feet to the west, a frontage road will be built, along with 3 new Route 99 interchanges, and 50 private properties will be condemned and purchased by the state, displacing an assisted living facility, a mobile home park, a truck stop, an RV dealership, several motels, and two self storage facilities. The bullet train project budget will have to bear the cost of relocating all of these businesses.

According to plans of the high speed rail authority, 30% of the construction work on the project must be performed by small business subcontractors, and the authority is considering an additional requirement that one third of that goal, or 10% of the entire project budget, must be spent on work performed by minority and women owned businesses. In Chicago area government construction projects, the usual contract requirement is for 30% of the work to go to MBE/WBE trade subcontractors. It remains a puzzlement why California’s goals for disadvantaged business participation are so much lower.

blog comments powered by Disqus