High-speed rail agency to weigh contracts for Valley survey work

The Fresno BeeJuly 30, 2013 

Contracts worth up to $6 million will be at stake Thursday for mapping and surveying parcels along proposed high-speed rail routes between Fresno and Bakersfield.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority's board members, at their meeting in Sacramento, will formally begin their search for companies to survey and map parcel lines, utilities and easements. Those activities will set the stage for property appraisals and acquisition after the agency finalizes a route through the southern San Joaquin Valley for the statewide bullet-train system.

Two years ago, the rail board authorized its staff to solicit competitive bids for rights-of-way services, including appraisals, mapping and surveying, and negotiating with landowners for property needed for the rail line. On Thursday, however, the board will be asked to tweak the process. Instead of seeking bids and the choosing contractors largely on the basis of price, companies will be asked to submit their qualifications for the work.

"The most qualified teams will be identified and a reasonable fee will be negotiated," assistant chief program manager Scott Jarvis said in a memo to the board.

Jarvis described the issue as a "technical 'clean-up' item" to comply with terms of the California Government Code that require a qualification-based selection, rather than price-based competitive bids, for certain licensed professions including architectural, landscape, engineering, environmental, land surveying and construction management.

Lisa Marie Alley, a spokeswoman for the authority, said that up to four contractors will be chosen for the work. The value of each contract could be between $1 million and $1.5 million.

The rail agency hopes to begin construction of the statewide system later this summer with a 30-mile stretch from northeast of Madera to the south edge of Fresno. About $6 billion is available for construction in the Valley between Madera and the northern outskirts of Bakersfield, intended to form the backbone of a line where high-speed trains would operate once tracks are extended into Southern California. Future extensions would stretch tracks to the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and San Diego.

Also on Thursday, the rail board will also consider issuing requests for qualifications for regional consulting services for the Bakersfield-Palmdale, Sacramento-Merced and Los Angeles-San Diego sections of the statewide project. The contractors will be responsible for work such as environmental analyses, preliminary design engineering or planning in the section for which they are chosen.

The contract costs for each section are anticipated to be:

  • Bakersfield-Palmdale: $46.1 million over five years.
  • Los Angeles-San Diego: $2 million over two years.
  • Sacramento-Merced: $1 million over two years.

If you go:

What: California High-Speed Rail Authority board meeting

When: 9 a.m. Thursday

Where: Sacramento City Council chambers, 915 I St., Sacramento.

Other details: The meeting is open to the public and will be webcast live.

See the meeting agenda here.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6319, tsheehan@fresnobee.com or @tsheehan on Twitter.

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