California · Highlight

Contractor blasts Calif. High-Speed Rail board for delays “beyond comprehension”

The letter, obtained by The Los Angeles Times, alleges that a multitude of problems have remained unresolved for years, including rapid turnover of state officials, continuing delays in obtaining land for the rail and the state’s ‘failure to secure agreements with outside parties,’ including utilities and freight railroads.

The delays will result in idled work sites and layoffs of field workers, says the letter by construction giant Tutor Perini.

As of mid-November, construction teams can not build on more than 500 parcels in the Fresno area because the California High Speed Rail Authority still lacks possession or proper documentation, according to the Jan. 4 letter. The company has completed all the work that could be done efficiently and as a result is now operating at other sites at a slower pace.

“It is beyond comprehension that as of this day, more than two thousand and six hundred calendar days after [official approval to start construction] that the authority has not obtained all of the right of way,” wrote Tutor Perini Vice President of Operations Ghassan Ariqat to Garth Fernandez, the contracting chief at the state rail authority.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Asm. Jim Patterson (R–Fresno) noted that the failure of rail officials to secure rights of way within the City of Fresno served as “a huge warning red light.”

He went further, denouncing the rosy outlook provided by rail officials to legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom in December as being demonstrably false.

“This is now a cover-up,” Patterson said. “What we’re seeing is [California] being ripped off and ripped up.”

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The San Joaquin Valley Sun
Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.