Questions Mount About CA High-Speed Rail Builder Selection

As California rushes to begin building the first phase of its controversial high-speed rail project, the decision to select a builder based more on cost than technical competence is being scrutinized by state and federal lawmakers.

High-speed rail skeptic Ralph Vartabedian looks at the growing controversy surrounding the selection of a construction team led by Tutor Perini Corp. to build the first segment of California's high-speed rail network. "Tutor Perini Corp. won the competition to build the first 29 miles of the high-speed rail route on a low bid of $985 million, even though its design quality, safety plan and engineering, among other factors, ranked at the bottom of five teams seeking the work."

"A state Senate committee, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives and the state auditor, among others, are looking at a variety of issues and allegations about the project, even as the state begins buying the first parcels of land ahead of the planned start of construction in July."

A couple of "unusual" moves by the state - weighing the decision to focus on cost and discarding a plan to disqualify the two lowest bidders - may have been decisive in Tutor Perini's selection, contends Vartabedian.

Full Story: Builder of 1st phase of California's bullet train faces scrutiny

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