Work on California's $68-billion high-speed rail line is due to start in six weeks, but the construction team that came in with the lowest bid also came in with the lowest-ranked "design quality, safety plan, and engineering," according the LA Times. Excellent. Tutor Perini's $985-million bid to build the first section of the line, through the Central Valley, won the day after several rule changes that practically guaranteed the cheapest option would prevail; they came in way under the $1.4-billion bid made by a Spanish team with the highest technical marks. But Tutor Perini chief exec Ron Tutor wants to assure us all that his firm is totally up to the job, and definitely did not underbid for the work only to gouge taxpayers later. See how reassuring he sounds?:
-- "If his company had low scores, then the scoring system was the problem, Tutor suggested."
-- "His team is "light years" ahead of the Spanish in construction competence, he argued. He's never built high-speed rail structures, he acknowledged, but said the initial construction work is akin to a routine highway project."
-- "He said critics' claim that he bids projects low and then pushes up costs with change orders is inaccurate and undeserved. 'It is the biggest drivel that ever took a breath,' he said."
Great! The state has already started buying up land before work begins on the first 29-mile stretch between Fresno and Madera in July. But foes of HSR are still trying to derail the project. A congressmember from Northern California opened hearings today into the Tutor Perini contract, among other things, and doesn't want any work to start until all legal challenges have been settled and voters have weighed in on the line's rising pricetag.
· Builder of 1st phase of California's bullet train faces scrutiny [LAT]
· High Speed Rail Archives [Curbed LA]