News & Press

Bill Would Increase Oversight of High Speed Rail Project

California’s Assembly Transportation Committee this week approved a bill designed to increase legislative oversight of the California High Speed Rail project.

AB 2847 was introduced by Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) and approved by the Transportation Committee on April 18. The bill came in the wake of the California High Speed Rail Authority’s decision, announced in its draft 2016 business plan this February, to shift focus from the Southern California segment of the massive project to construction of the Central Valley-to-San Jose segment first. It also followed a report released by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office this March that was critical of the new high speed rail plan and its ability to meet promised start of trains from Los Angeles to San Francisco by 2029. The LAO urged lawmakers to increase their oversight of the high profile and often hotly debated project.

AB 2847 would require the Rail Authority to offer detailed cost, schedule and scope information on each segment to the Legislature and to show ahead how each segment will be financed.

Construction work is currently moving forward on the High Speed Rail project’s $985 million Package 1, comprising 29 miles of track in Madera and Fresno counties. Design-Build joint venture contractor Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons broke ground on construction on that contract last summer.

Dragados-Flatiron Joint Venture won Construction Packages 2 and 3 in early 2015 for a bid of $1.2 billion and is in the initial stages. California Rail Builders, comprised of Ferrovial Agroman US Corp., won Package 4, a $348 million contract in early 2016. That project will include construction of 22 miles of rail project in Tulare County.

California’s High Speed Rail Project currently has an estimated overall budget of about $64 billion. Project funding continues to be a major question mark even as portions of the project move forward.

AB 2847 is expected to be referred to the Appropriations Committee and then move on to the full Assembly.

Stay tuned for more.