Central Valley Segment Construction Timeline Extended
According to Ralph Vartabedian at the LA Times, construction on the Central Valley segment of the high speed rail system is being pushed out by a year to December 2017:
The California High-Speed Rail Authority said Thursday that it was adding 12 months to the construction schedule for 130 miles of track in the Central Valley, easing what some outside experts have contended was an overly aggressive and risky timeline.
Jeff Morales, chief executive of the authority, said the revised schedule would have the track completed by December 2017 rather than a year earlier as set under the agency’s contracting documents. The new timetable will allow contractors to use less overtime and other practices that were expected under the accelerated plan in place earlier, Morales said.
“We are going to get lower bids, save some money and still meet all of our deadlines,” he said. “It is a good business move.”…
The aggressive schedule had been adopted to protect federal grants under the Obama administration’s stimulus program, which required all the funds to be spent by Sept. 30, 2017. Morales said the agency will still meet that deadline by spending the federal stimulus money first and then completing the later work with state funds and other federal appropriations without the deadline.
This makes sense to me. If extending the timeline by a few months means the project can be bid and built for a lower price while still meeting the federal stimulus deadline, then it’s worth doing. Critics will likely charge this is some sort of sign of weakness with the project, but in fact it’s no such thing. As construction approaches, the timeline and the costs are finalized.
What matters most is that Californians get good high speed rail infrastructure in a timely fashion within the proposed budget. We still have every reason to believe that’s what will happen.