February 25, 2014

Five teams OK'd to bid for second high-speed rail contract in Valley

Companies from across the U.S. and around the world are expected to compete for a contract worth between $1.5 billion and $2 billion to design and build a 60-mile section of California's proposed high-speed rail line in the San Joaquin Valley.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority announced Tuesday that it has approved five teams of contracting companies to bid on the second construction segment, from south of Fresno to near the Tulare-Kern county line. A contract for the first 29-mile portion from Madera through Fresno was awarded last summer.

The Valley segments -- if and when they are built -- will form part of a 520-mile line between San Francisco and Los Angeles for electric trains capable of hauling passengers at up to 220 mph. The cost of that statewide line is projected at about $68 billion. But the project continues to face obstacles, as legal, financial and political concerns cast a shadow over the rail authority's efforts.

All five of the contracting teams that responded to the rail agency's request for qualifications made it to the short list approved for bidding on the next construction package. Those teams are:

 -- California Rail Builders, a joint venture composed of Ferrovial Agroman U.S. Corp. and Granite Construction. Ferrovial is an American subsidiary of Ferrovial S.A., a Spanish company, while Granite Construction is a California company headquartered in Watsonville.

-- Dragados/Flatiron/Shimmick, a consortium that includes Dragados USA Inc., a subsidiary of Grupo ACS and Dragados S.A. of Spain; Flatiron West Inc. of San Marcos; and Shimmick Construction Co. of Oakland.

-- Golden State Rail Partnership, composed of OHL USA Inc., a subsidiary of Spain's Obrascón Huarte Lain S.A., and Samsung E&C America Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of South Korea's Samsung Group.

-- Skanska-Ames Joint Venture, a team that includes Skanska USA Civil West California District Inc., a subsidiary of Sweden's Skanska, and Minnesota-based Ames Construction Inc.

-- Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons, a joint venture of Tutor Perini Corp. of Sylmar, Zachry Construction of Texas and Pasadena-based Parsons Corp. The Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons team was the winning bidder last summer for the first contract to design and build the 29-mile Madera-Fresno stretch. That deal has a value of about $1 billion.

The rail authority spent about two months combing through the qualifications of each of the teams before approving them for the next stage of the bidding process. The agency said it anticipates issuing a formal request for bids this spring.

The exact route for the construction package has yet to be finalized, awaiting approval of an environmental impact report for the state's Fresno-Bakersfield rail section. But the segment is anticipated to start at American Avenue, at the south end of Fresno, and run southward through Kings and Tulare counties. The line generally follows the Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight rail line, with bypasses around the communities of Hanford, Corcoran and Allensworth.

Another future contract would extend the line further southward toward Bakersfield, while a fourth deal would cover the cost of laying steel tracks for the entire length of the route from Madera to north of Bakersfield.

So far, no substantial demolition or building activity has taken place on the first phase, but engineering and design work has begun, while the state continues to try to buy the land it needs for the railroad right of way.


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