Five Consortiums Likely to Bid on Central Valley HSR Work
Tim Sheehan at the Fresno Bee reports that there are five consortiums on the short list to start building high speed rail in the Central Valley:
Van Ark said the companies have formed into five teams that the authority has qualified to compete for a contract on a stretch of the line through Fresno, from the San Joaquin River at the north end to American Avenue at the south end. The contract is expected to be worth $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
The builder teams are:
* California Backbone Builders, a consortium of two Spanish construction firms — Ferrovial Agroman and Acciona.
* California High-Speed Rail Partners, composed of Fluor Corp. of Texas, Swedish-based Skanska, and PCL Constructors of Canada.
* California High-Speed Ventures, made up of Kiewit Corp. of Nebraska, Granite Construction of Watsonville, and Comsa EMTE of Spain.
* A joint venture of Dragados SA of Spain, Denver-based Flatiron Construction Corp., and Shimmick Construction of Oakland.
* Tutor Perini Corp. of Sylmar, Zachry Construction of Texas and Pasadena-based Parsons Corp.
The project includes building 12 street overcrossings or underpasses, two elevated viaducts, a tunnel and a bridge across the San Joaquin River. Laying the tracks will be done later under a separate contract.
Some quick background on each…
California Backbone Builders (Ferrovial and Acciona): These are two Spanish companies with experience in building transportation infrastructure and other civil engineering projects. Ferrovial built the beautiful Terminal 4 building at Madrid’s Barajas airport, and Acciona built Lisboa’s landmark Gare do Oriente rail station in 1998. Together Ferrovial and Acciona have built portions of the Madrid-Barcelona AVE route and are currently working on the AVE extension north from Barcelona to the French border.
Ferrovial also operates several pieces of transportation infrastructure through its wholly owned subsidiary Cintra. Cintra is deeply involved in the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor and owns a number of toll roads, including the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road (both of which were very highly controversial privatizations).
California High-Speed Rail Partners (Fluor, Skanska and PCL): These are three very big names in major civil engineering projects. Fluor used to be based in Orange County until a recent move to Texas, and one of their current major projects is building the new East Span of the Bay Bridge. They’re also working on Dutch high speed rail. Back in the ’90s they were part of the winning bid to build Florida high speed rail (which was sadly killed by Jeb Bush). Skanska is, among other things, working on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project in Seattle, the Second Avenue Subway, and the PATH/World Trade Center station reconstruction project in NYC. They also built the Bothnia rail line in Sweden and were part of the huge Øresund Fixed Link project. PCL Construction has been working on the Central Corridor light rail project in the Twin Cities, and was interested in Florida’s HSR project in 2010 before another right-wing governor killed HSR there.
California High-Speed Ventures (Kiewit, Granite, Comsa): Kiewit has worked on many of the bridge retrofit projects in the San Francisco Bay as well as the T-Rex transportation project in Denver. Granite is a major construction player on the Central Coast, and led the project to trench the Union Pacific rail line through downtown Reno. Comsa has been involved in many pieces of AVE construction in Spain, including the original Madrid-Sevilla line and the route from Madrid to Galicia.
Dragados, Flatiron, Shimmick: Dragados S.A. was one of the two key partners in building LGV Perpignan-Figueres, connecting France and Spain. Dragados is also the lead contractor on the Seattle waterfront tunnel, which will include the largest tunnel boring machine ever used. Flatiron is working a lot of rail projects in California, including the Expo Line, the Oakland Airport Connector, and the Sprinter. Flatiron is also owned by Hochtief, which had some rather important building contracts in Nazi Germany, which should make things interesting given the recent issues related to California high speed rail, SNCF, and the Holocaust. Shimmick worked on the Golden Gate Bridge retrofit and a bunch of rail projects in California as well, including the new West Dublin/Pleasanton BART station, the Caltrain maintenance facility in San José, and part of BART’s Warm Springs extension. The members of this consortium may not be big names like some of the folks listed above but their experience with California rail projects is significant, making them a sleeper pick for the contract.
Tutor Perini, Zachry, Parsons: Tutor Perini is based in Sylmar and were the lead contractors on the BART to SFO project and the Alameda Corridor rail project. Parsons was also in on BART to SFO, is a “general engineering consultant” for Caltrain, and worked on the Channel Tunnel, Taiwan HSR, and the Northeast Corridor. The website indicates the consortium is Tutor Perini and Parsons, so I’m not quite sure where Zachry fits in. They’re based in Texas and have done a lot of highway projects there. They were also a partner with Cintra in the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor.
All five have an extensive background in major transportation projects, including rail. I think the first group, California Backbone Partners, is probably something of a longshot given their comparative lack of experience on California transportation projects. The others all have an extensive background, which also means they likely have their share of critics based on some of those projects.
There’s still a ways to go before a contractor is selected, and as some of these guys know, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll actually start building HSR. But if California avoids following the Tea Party down the path of opposing rail transportation projects, one of them should start building California HSR in Fresno this fall.