Lead Bidder Ranked for $1B Cal Bullet-Train Deal

Wed April 17, 2013 - National Edition

Computer-generated image of the proposed high-speed trains for use in California.
Computer-generated image of the proposed high-speed trains for use in California.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A California-based construction group Friday emerged as the top contender for the first contract that will be awarded to build California’s high-speed rail line.

The state High-Speed Rail Authority announced that joint venture Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons topped a field of five rivals in a ranking of competing bids to build the initial link from Madera to Fresno.

The ranking is a preliminary step. The authority is not expected to vote on awarding the contract for several weeks.

Authority chief executive Jeff Morales called the ranking a milestone.

“We received proposals from five world-class teams and are moving forward to deliver a world class program,” he said. “It’s time to get to work in the Central Valley and create thousands of jobs.”

The authority had projected that the cost for the first link would range between $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion. The construction group was the low bidder, with an offer just under $1 billion.

Other bids ranged as high as $1.5 billion. Factors in the ranking included cost and technical merit.

Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing the project, but it has faced fierce criticism because of the multibillion-dollar price at a time of tight state finances. Covering the cost of the unpopular rail system is one of the project’s biggest unknowns.

Brown was in China this week, where he got a firsthand look at the world’s most extensive high-speed rail system. During a five-hour ride covering more than 800 miles, the governor touted the possibility of Chinese investment in California’s $68 billion high-speed rail project.