Firm hired to manage construction of next high-speed rail section

ARCADIS U.S., the American division of a Netherlands-based construction firm, has been hired to oversee construction of a 65-mile stretch of high-speed rail line south of Fresno.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority board this week awarded a contract worth up to $71.9 million to ARCADIS, which has its U.S. offices in Colorado, for project and construction management of its bullet-train route from American Avenue, at the south edge of Fresno, through Kings County to near the Tulare-Kern county line.

Scott Jarvis, the authority's deputy chief program manager, said ARCADIS was chosen from a field of five companies that submitted statements of qualifications earlier this year. ARCADIS was the top-scoring firm after an evaluation process that included presentations by each of the companies.

Jarvis described ARCADIS as "a respected, leading ... design and consulting firm" that has experience in management of major projects.

Exactly who ARCADIS will manage is not yet known. The authority is now soliciting bids from construction teams vying for a contract to design and build the segment -- work that the agency estimates will cost $1.5 billion to $2 billion. Bids are due in October, and authority CEO Jeff Morales said he hopes the agency can award a contract to the winning bidder by the end of this year.

"Our intent in moving forward with this prior to awarding the (construction) contract is to have this firm on board ... and help evaluate the bids," Morales said. "They will be there from Day 1 of that contract."

Jarvis said ARCADIS will be serve "as the authority's eyes and ears for the oversight of the design-build contract." The firm will be in charge of managing contract risks, overseeing inspections and testing of materials for construction, and ensuring compliance with technical, environmental and safety requirements.

The ARCADIS contract will includes the authority's established goal of ensuring that 30% of the contract work be subcontracted to small businesses, including those certified as owned by disadvantaged populations such as women, ethnic minorities or disabled veterans.