The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Monday, 09 December 2013 14:48cat

California High Speed Rail Project Hits More Delays

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California Bullet Train California Bullet Train California High Speed Rail Authority

The federal Surface Transportation Board rejected the California High Speed Rail Authority’s approval request for a 114-mile section of the rail line between Fresno and Bakersfield on Wednesday.  The board is demanding an extensive environmental review before the approval will be granted.  Currently, only 28 miles of the track have environmental approval.  Officials from the rail authority are brushing off the ruling as nothing more than a minor setback and that the media is misreporting its significance. However, others see it as another major delay in an already over-budget and slow moving project.

Last September, the Rail Authority asked for an environmental exception in order to avoid renegotiating certain contracts.  The request was denied because the Rail Authority didn't provide any “unique or compelling circumstances” according to the federal board.  Vice Chairman of the board, Anne Begeman, stated that the board’s ruling was in part based on the questions about the overall viability of the project, especially regarding funding.  A judge had previously ruled that the funding plan from 2011 did not uphold the promises made to voters when the rail project was initially approved in 2008.  Despite all of these legal challenges, the California High Speed Rail Authority is expecting to break ground on the project in January or February 2014.  It is currently expected to cost around $68 billion to complete the entire bullet-train system, and the rail line is supposed to be operational by 2029.  The project is using a design-build contract, and design of the initial stages of the line are currently underway.

Sources: BloombergBakersfield CalifornianUT San Diego

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