Sucking on the Public Teat
High-speed rail board OKs first construction contract
for Fresno-Madera link
Let the Spending Begin - The corrupt high-speed rail money trough of bullet train government contracts begins. You can see the unions and businesses lining up for hundreds of miles to suck on the government teat.
The fact that no one will take a four to five hour "high-speed" train ride when they can fly in one hour has no meaning. The project is all about money.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority on Thursday agreed to the $985 million contract for the first stage of construction for a statewide bullet-train system in the Fresno-Madera area.
By a 6-0 vote Thursday in Sacramento, the agency's board authorized CEO Jeffrey Morales to finalize the deal with a consortium comprised of Tutor Perini Corp. of Sylmar, Zachry Construction of Texas and Parsons Corp. of Pasadena.
The Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons team was the lowest of five bidders for the contract to design and build the 30-mile segment.
The project runs from Avenue 17 northeast of Madera to American Avenue at the south end of Fresno. It will include a bridge over the San Joaquin River; elevated tracks at the north and south ends of Fresno; a tunnel under Belmont Avenue and Highway 180; and a dozen street or road overpasses reports the Fresno Bee.
Thomas Fellenz, the rail authority's chief counsel, said the agency and representatives of the construction consortium will likely take several weeks to a month to hammer out details of the agreement. He said he expects the contract to be signed in July.
Authority officials have said they hope some of the first construction work -- including clearing ground, relocating utilities and building demolition -- could start later this summer. Thursday's approval came despite concerns from some audience members that Tutor Perini Corp. represented a flawed choice for a contractor. They cited concerns over the company's work on a disputed MGM high-rise hotel project in Las Vegas and worries about the firm's financial stability.
Kings County farmers Karen Stout and Frank Oliveira, members of the grassroots Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability, said a downgrade of Tutor Perini's bond rating last fall represented a "material change" in the company's fiscal health that they believed made the firm ineligible for the contract.
Oliveira likened the contract to the famous ship Titanic, which sank in 1912 after its captain failed to heed warnings of icebergs in the ship's path. "Have you really done due diligence on this contractor?" he asked. "Your bid process and the selection process was full of icebergs."
The Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons consortium was ranked by the authority as its "best value" bidder, earning the highest total score in a bid-screening process that considered both price and technical merit. The team offered the lowest price, but also had the lowest score for technical merit.