CA High-Speed ​​Rail Authority awards $35 million station design contract

The California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday approved a $35 million design and support services contract for four Central Valley stations with Foster + Partners and Arup (F+P Arup ), further inflating the high-speed rail budget by $113 billion. .

Initially estimated cost $33 billion in 2008high-speed rail system costs soared to $98 billion, then fell to $68 billion, and are now back to $113 billion. Completion dates have also been continually delayedwith the initial objective of passing the system of San Francisco to Los Angeles by 2028 at well into the 2030s for partial completion. Despite numerous setbacks and more and more Californians questioning the plans, the construction of the Bakersfield stage at Merced has continues for several years, with global support for the program always just over 50% as is.

With both the first Bakersfield at Merced obtain building permission in August, calls for tenders were then launched for design and support services for the new stations on the route. While the second phase of the project, currently scheduled for completion between 2031 and 2033, will use existing stations such as Union Station in Los Angeles and Diridon Station in San Jose, the initial stretch from Bakersfield to Merced will need to have 4 entirely new stations. built for Merced, Fresno, Kings/Tulare and Bakersfield stations.

According to a Press release by the Authority, companies will need to identify requirements for the relocation of the right-of-way and utilities needed for construction, and then proceed to final design, construction and commissioning later. Moving the right-of-way and utilities alone is expected to take 30 months.

Despite the added cost and longer than usual schedule, the High-Speed ​​Authority on Thursday touted the route as a major job provider, while helping to spur economic development once completed.

“Central Valley’s first four high-speed rail stations are one step closer to reality,” Authority Chairman Tom Richards said. Thursday. “High-speed rail stations will transform cities, spur economic development and create community hubs in the heart of our state.”

However, critics noted on Friday that the approvals granted on Thursday only added to the reputation of a “mess up” the rail line has in the state.

“Usually people are upset about the increase in the budget a few more billions here and there, but we can’t forget the little increases either, because they add up,” transportation industry accountant Derrick Clark told The Globe on Friday. “Things like this are generally set, but there are a lot of things that can change. There may be delays, which increases costs. A new specialist, advisor or consultant may have to join us, which increases costs. Specialized equipment or the need to find a new way to inspect may arise, which increases costs. »

“The $35 million was a planned increase, as it involves work needed to complete the line. But, as we’ve seen time and time again with this project, it finds ways to inflate small costs to larger costs. And, based on the renders, the station already looks as cheap as it gets, so the money is definitely not invested in creativity or taste. An architect there really needs to turn in his degree. It’s an announcement showing progress, but it’s really a warning that additional costs are on the horizon.

Further announcements on the progress of the Merced leg to Bakersfield are expected soon.

Jose P. Rogers