CHSRA Selects Tutor Perini-Zachry-Parsons Bid for Central Valley Section

Apr 13th, 2013 | Posted by

Yesterday the California High Speed Rail Authority announced it had selected the bid from Tutor Perini-Zachry-Parsons for the Central Valley section of the construction project. Their bid was the lowest of the five, coming in at $985 million. It also received the lowest technical ranking.

The initial estimate from the Authority for the project cost was $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion. Three of the five bids did indeed fall into that range. A $985 million bid would be a big savings – assuming the cost estimate wasn’t low-balled in order to win the bid with the intent to make it up on the back end with change orders and cost overruns.

For some background on the bid groups, see this CAHSR blog post from last year. As to the bids themselves, based on the “Apparent Best Value Ranking” document, here’s how they stacked up:

Tutor Perini-Zachry-Parsons

Price: $985 million
Price score (70 points possible): 70
Technical score (30 points possible): 20.55
Total score (100 points possible): 90.55

Dragados-Samsung-Pulice

Price: $1.085 billion
Price score: 63.55
Technical score: 26.13
Total score: 89.68

California Backbone Builders (Ferrovial and Acciona)

Price: $1.365 billion
Price score: 50.49
Technical score: 27.71
Total score: 78.20

California High Speed Rail Partners (Fluor, Skanska, PCL)

Price: $1.263 billion
Price score: 54.59
Technical score: 27.71
Total score: 78.20

California High Speed Rail Ventures (Kiewit, Granite, Comsa)

Price: $1.537 billion
Price score: 44.87
Technical score: 21.41
Total score: 66.27

The Authority did not release any details of the bids, so it’s not clear what drove the technical scores. It was notable to me that the Dragados-Samsung-Pulice group bid was very close to Tutor Perini-Zachry-Parsons in price, but apparently significantly superior in technical aspects. Still, the overall process gave cost over twice as much weight as technical score, so the $985 million bid won out.

It’s way too soon to determine just what this all means for California high speed rail, aside from the fact that the cost of this segment might be lower than expected. How did the winning bidders get their cost estimate down below $1 billion? What are the key points of difference between theirs and the other four bids? Why did it receive the lowest technical score, and is that going to cause problems during construction?

I don’t mean to sound skeptical since the low bid is good news from a cost perspective. I wish we knew more details about the technical aspects of the bids, but I also have confidence that the project will be built in a good way that lays the spine for this crucial project in the coming years.

  1. Jerry
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 12:46
    #1

    Since it is a Design / Build type bid, is the greater technical part in the Design process or the Build process? And can any of that be much of a problem in the ‘easier’ Central Valley segment of the CAHSR?

  2. David
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 12:49
    #2

    I’m curious, what gives you that confidence? By which I mean, is it confidence or hope? I don’t know what technical score means either, but this makes me sort of nervous.

  3. Richard Mlynarik
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 12:53
    #3

    It’s way too soon to determine just what this all means for California high speed rail …

    No it isn’t.

    It means that the inmates remain firmly in control of the asylum, and that CHSR will go exactly as well as BART to Millbrae, the LA Metro Red line, the Muni Central Subway, and the Transbay Terminal.

    I means with PBQD “designing” and “overseeing”, PTG (Caltrain downtown extension genius crew) having any role whatsoever in any sort of “design” of any type, and even the faintest whiff of Rob Tutor within 10000 miles … what could possibly go wrong?

    America’s Finest Transportation Professionals, top to bottom, through and through, tried and true.

    Some might hope they narrowly dodged a bullet there, with a 1% chance that some non-usual-suspect might have gotten a 1% piece of the action, but let’s be real: there was never a 1% chance.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    So initially, I had a “you have got to be kidding me” response, but now I think it makes perfect sense to do it this way.

    Unlike the Red Line in LA, which was a horribly complicated tunneling job that was in effect the first phase of the project, this is probably the simplest part of the route to design and build for CAHSR.

    Now that Tutor-Parsons has put us on notice that the project can be done for under a billion dollars, they either have to follow through or reveal themselves to be charlatans. My guess is that if Tutor-Parsons screws up, it will open the door for other, sophisticated players to learn from the mistake and actually save the project.

    What about pairing Obayashi, Odebrecht, and Shimmick?

    Nathanael Reply:

    As I said earlier, if CHSRA is clever, they will use this contract to disqualify Tutor-Parsons from bidding on subsequent contracts which are intended to be executed simultaneously, on the groups that Tutor-Parsons would be overcommitted.

  4. BMF of San Diego
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 13:24
    #4

    Based on the CHSRA project schedule for this segment, it appears the project is on schedule. Possibly ‘ahead’ of schedule???

    Per the below link are applicable dates:

    “Anticipated Contract Award” June 2013

    Next milestone date:
    “Notice to Proceed” July 2013

    http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/con_proc.aspx

    A ceremonial ground breaking will likley occur shortly thereafter.

    James M in Irvine, CA Reply:

    I want to be there!

    Jim

  5. Mattie F.
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 13:48
    #5

    You know, the bid summary is much more concise and easy to read and compare when presented in tabular form as it was in CHSRA’s press release…

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It is, which is why I linked it.

  6. BMF of San Diego
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 14:16
    #6

    The CHSRA has a problem. And, they don’t even know it. They have no experience operating trains. No expereince operating trains with passengers. No experience with anything. They are relying on their consultants to tell them what to do. And, to the consultants… CHSR is a construction project. It’s not an operating project… its construction. They will build it… and walk away. And the consultants are too ignorant or blind to know how to make a system work.

    CHSRA supposedly has brought-in foreign firms WITH operating expereince. But, where are they? Who are they? Did they get to participate in evaluating the proposers? Or at a minimum, provide input last year in ‘qualifying’ possible bidders?

    I’ve been looking at background information for a couple of the proposers. I am obviously very skeptical of the the selected team. I see virtually NO merit worthy experience with train operations.

    Zachry appears to be the main partner that supposedly brings this experience to the selected team; however operating a 26-mile short-line that’s main tonnage is composed of gravel and sand, and although it hooks up with a UPRR line, Zachry’s experience is akin to…

    Driving a car to/from work and now they are supposedly qualified to drive F1 cars. And, in an actual race.
    or
    Aligator hunting from a motor boat and now supposedly qualified to Captain a Carnival Cruise Line.

    I am reminded of Sarah Palin, “I see Russia from my porch, so I have interantional experience.”

    I think the CHSRA screwed up. I think each proposer that delivered a bid under the lower $1.2 billion estimated cost should have recieved no less than the 70 maximum allotted points. I compare technical scores… it is lost on me how Tutor Perini-Zachry-Parsons, which had the lowest techinical score, even had a score that is even close to California High Speed Rail Ventures (Kiewit, Granite, Comsa), which was the next highest score! All other proposers had higher scores!

    Derek Reply:

    What kind of rework is likely when construction for this contract is complete?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Naah, like Vegas, we implode after 20 years.

    James M in Irvine, CA Reply:

    Aren’t we a little far off to be concerned with hitting top speed? Not a shovel of dirt has been flipped in the valley, and there is concern with “experience”.

    We will get it done by following the best practices that are out there.

    First, we build the track. When it looks like track is getting done, get some high speed trains out there, and get the wire strung. Then look at how all the successful high speed trains operate and write your rules following the best practices that havee been established for many decades.

    We will get there, and we Americans and Californians can learn how to do it, and we will do it well.

    jim

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    No, lack of experience will delay this project and foster bad public impression.

    Work involving systems, such as ‘traction power’ and ‘train control’ are supported by both infrastructure, communications, and intelligent systems. These are elements that need to be designed for upfront… not catch-up on the end like filling up your rental car with gas before returning it to Enterprise.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They aren’t bidding on traction power, train control, communications or intelligent systems. They are bidding on concrete and rebar.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    Well, I hope they add some rails and ties and crossovers.

    But seriously, doing a partial job looks like a recipe for some bad soup.

    These things need to be designed and constructed together. If a designer or contractor has no vested interest in systems to be added on later… I am sure they will care much less about doing that related work.

    “Duct banks? Ooops, we forgot the ones from milepost 0.0 to 15.0. And besides, the contract was unclear we’d be doing that work. Are those really needed? Well, lets submit a design waiver and the ‘systems’ guys coming in next year can do those duct banks. Here’s the invoice for work for this past month… and, oh, let us know when the RFP comes out for the ‘systems work’… we’re interested in that work.”

    Okay, I am being a bit cycnical.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not anywhere nearly cynical enough. Count on CAHSR to barely achieve B-grade. BART-grade; Bay Bridge grade. Look around: Stubway, TBT, BART to the Moon – blunders everywhere.

    Eric Reply:

    Building the wrong thing, and building the right thing badly, are rather unrelated things.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Duct banks for what? The PRR needed duct banks when they had to run miles long pieces of copper from one signal block to the next. They aren’t going to be laying track either, just like they aren’t going to be mixing their own concrete, rolling their own rebar or mining their own gravel. It will all go out to subcontractors. The ones with track laying machines will probably get the contract for laying track. The ones who lay miles and miles of fiber optic cable every month will probably get the one for “commmunications”….

    Nathanael Reply:

    It is actually fairly normal to have the heavy-construction people build any duct banks needed for comms.

    However, this line is going to have overhead wiring, so the comms may not be buried.

    Andy M Reply:

    But it’s not going to have overhead wires from day one. It is going to need signals and communication from day one.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    Mmmm…. ad.. you got me thinking and I looked more deeply. Correct you are. The contractor is not doing the trackway. Or for that matter, they are not doing any buildings or the Frseno station . Yiour characterization is accurate enough.

    From the CHSRA website and the Scope of Work issued for this RFP:

    ——
    Contractor shall provide design and construction for CHSTP trackway civil infrastructure,
    complete in place. Contractor shall design, install, and maintain a protective layer over the
    trackway and access road subgrade to protect the subgrade from degradation until the future
    trackwork contractor is on board.

    Contractor shall design and install structural embedments such as anchor bolts, embeds,
    grounding, and bonding, foundations, etc., as needed, in structures, walls and subsurface
    infrastructure to accommodate future CHSTP systems components not in the Project scope.
    —–

    and

    —–
    “The Scope of Work does not include construction of trackwork itself; passenger stations;
    buildings; right‐of‐way engineering, negotiations, and acquisition; soundwalls; and systems
    work (i.e., Overhead Contact System poles, foundations, and wires; Traction Power Facilities;
    Automatic Train Control; etc.). The Scope of Work excludes civil/site works for said future
    CHSTP systems facilities and ancillary sites, unless noted otherwise (i.e., civil preparatory
    works are generally limited to the improvements required for the CHSTP trackway only).
    However, while these elements are not included in the Scope, Contractor shall ensure their future accommodation and integration via the Interface Coordination and Design Integration
    Workshops with the Authority.”
    —–

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    Correction…. I meant, the contractor is not doing the trackwork ( I wrote “trackway”). They are essentially building-up the ROW and be ready for rails and what-not.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    CHSRA is fortunate that the first segment does not include tunnels.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Tunnels are not PB’s style; hollow-core aerials.

    Travis D Reply:

    Of which there are essentially none.

    Travis D Reply:

    It does include one tunnel. Under a freeway.

  7. synonymouse
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 14:54
    #7

    “CHSRA supposedly has brought-in foreign firms WITH operating expereince[sic].” No, they put the run on SNCF for assuming the obvious route alignment.

    The CHSRA are idiots, but no bigger than the rest of us who voted for it, I guess, counting on Richard’s one percent chance(see above).

    This is BART-Bechtel 101, grasshoppers. The Orphan ARRA is going to be the testtrack wherein and whereupon they will reinvent the wheel, again. Get Bombardier-Breda to slap together some trainsets and we’ll play with the layout. Too bad we cannot experiment with the gauge this time. They are taking all the fun out of it!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    what does operating trains have to do with pouring concrete?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Very good. You’ve got the gist of it.

    Pouring concrete, lots and lots of it, is job #1.

  8. Eric M
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 15:13
    #8

    Something is definitely wrong with the price proposal score!

    If you look at the point value between the different bid $$, the California High Speed Rail Partners (Fluor, Skanska, PCL) bid $1.263 billion with a score of 54.59. Next in line was California Backbone Builders (Ferrovial and Acciona) with a bid of $1.365 billion and a score of 50.49.

    Now that is $100 million difference and the score dropped 4.1.

    Now look at Tutor Perini-Zachry-Parsons with a bid of $985 million and a score of 70. Then the runner up from Dragados-Samsung-Pulice, with a bid of $1.085 billion and a score of 63.55.

    There again, it is a difference of $100 million, but the score dropped 6.45.

    The point system should drop equally with the price differences, but it does not. If it did, Dragados-Samsung-Pulice would be the winner, who is better qualified. Hopefully someone up in the food chain brings this up and does a reassessment. Tutor Perini-Zachry-Parsons should NOT be the winner. Dragados-Samsung-Pulice should be.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I don’t mean to be droning but you are forgetting the primacy of baksheeshing and having done so for years the usual suspects, the worthies of the party machine.

    You gotta lobby and that means big bux political contributions. Again Californis is one of the most corrupt states in the country. It will help you to understand things.

    joe Reply:

    I’m unhappy but not surprised.

    CA centric bidders know the CA rating system and have a business model optimized for the reviewing and evaluation process.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Helps to be on the inside, don’t it?

    Nathanael Reply:

    In this case it’s more “helps to know the system, ’cause then you can game the system”

    Mattie F. Reply:

    Unfortunately the scoring system is determined in advance… if you change it after you get the bids to give the contract to the second highest scorer, you would probably have legal problems. If they really want the bid to go to D-S-P, they’ll work on finding some legal reason to disqualify T-Z-P.

    As an aside, I’ve heard in Europe, they prefer the bid closest to the mean of all acceptable bids, so that those who underbid aren’t rewarded. Might not be a bad idea….

    joe Reply:

    past performance should factor into the evaluation and the state should be aggressive about cost overruns and not back down from litigating to establish such a track record.

    Winston Reply:

    The cost score is calculated in the following way: divide the lowest cost by the bid cost and multiply by 70. You may not like the Method or the result, but it isn’t biased on its face.

  9. Ted Judah
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 15:15
    #9

    Robert sounds like he was forced to watch the first Obama-Romney debate in HD again. Remember how that turned out for good ol’ Willard.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    I for one have no idea what you’re getting at with that…

    Jonathan Reply:

    That was the debate that Romney won. I guess Ted is implying that Robert sounds very unhappy with the result.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Robert’s level of enthusiasm is only matched by Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC commentary after the end of that debate. I don’t know if Robert would be as bummed if the Giants lost ten in a row….

  10. synonymouse
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 16:32
    #10

    OT “Liberal” HuffPost channels its inner Roger Lapham-Elmer Robinson:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/13/san-francisco-cable-car-accidents_n_3077129.html

    It even gets in a mention of Gloria Sykes – Cable Car Nymphomaniac – and manages to be off by 20 years in re the date of first operation(1873)

    But naturlich no mention of TWU 250A and 13 undocumented no-shows. And of one of the union brothers who opted to proceed down the Hyde St. hill in 1967 without the rope.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And even more naturally, no mention of the automobile accident rate, or fatality rate.

    The whole story just doesn’t look like news to me. Seems there were some incidents, some of which are inherent for a street railway vehicle, some of which are potentially inherent in an open railway car in which people can jump on or off while still moving, or where some bozos park cars too close to tracks. Only a couple of incidents mentioned could be considered potentially inherent to cable cars–one being the car rolling down the hill because its gripman couldn’t get on quickly enough, another a sudden stop, likely because of some obstruction in the cable slot that jammed the grip. None of them seem seriously great accidents in comparison with the auto toll, but we get nothing on that at all.

    So, why the story in the first place?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Blaming the cable cars is an old tried and true Muni management strategy. Goes something like if we could just get rid of those expensive antiques we would be in fat city. They would still have to deal with TWU 250A. And very bad congestion and really dumb planning. The list goes on but the cable lines are a handy scapegoat, especially when they announce a big claim settlement. The real issue they can’t touch politically is that Muni has a driver problem. An attitude problem.

    The carmen’s union’s unwillingness to accept one man operation with PCC’s was unfortunately a significant factor favoring bustitution.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s not the only problem with Muni. There are a number of well documented instances of the SF city government palming off other departments’ expenses on Muni — so that the other departments, which actually have budget problems, can pretend that they don’t have budget problems and that Muni does. Most famous is the “police bill” charged to Muni.

    The Muni management may feel unable to complain about this as they are employees of the mayor / city council which is engaging in the accounting shenanigans.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Some other opinions on the cable car story, or “non-story,” as the case may be:

    http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=34871

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Lots of old equipment is dangerous by modern standards. Not just transportation equipment, but industrial, agricultural, and construction equipment. It’s especially dangerous because we’ve gotten used to a safety-engineered world, where somebody else is looking out for us.

  11. John Burrows
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 16:55
    #11

    To quote Robert from his post last March 20. “But if you’re on the showroom floor and you really like that TV or that couch, you’re willing to pay a little extra to take it home right then and there, even if ideally you’d pay less”.

    But if you arrive on the showroom floor and discover that the minimum price you were expecting to pay for that item that you really like has been lowered by 18%, then you are likely to immediately start looking around for a sales person.

    For the last 5 years we have had to live with CaHSRA cost estimates that have proved to be way too low, but support for high speed rail has dropped off by only a small amount. Now when we are finally ready to start building, it appears that The Authority does indeed have its act together with the possibility that costs for the initial operating segment could actually come down.

    To me the fact that 2 of the bidders on the first 29 mile section have come in well under CaHSRA estimates is a big deal. Previously I have thought in terms of “If California gets high speed rail”. Now my thinking will be “Will enough of the project be completed in time to be of any use to me”?

    Jonathan Reply:

    Yes — but after the 2nd or 3rd or 4th time you buy such a deeply-discounted item, and you find it’s a lemon: and you have to pay 50% _more_ to get the thing to work — then a sensible person would stop dealing with that retailer.

    From an SFGate.com article about Tutor-Saliba’s bid for the Central Subway station:
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Low-bid-on-subway-station-could-cost-SF-3780385.php

    But history suggests that the transportation agency should proceed with caution: Collectively, 11 major Bay Area projects completed by the construction company since 2000 have cost local government $765 million more than expected, 40 percent above the initial bids, according to a review by the Bay Citizen.

    “Tutor is doing the same thing that he has always done: He bids super low, but the project ends up costing a lot more in the end,” said Kevin Williams, a former city contract compliance officer who raised concerns about the company’s work at San Francisco International Airport. “The reason that he is repeating this on the taxpayers’ dime is because he gets away with it,” Williams said, referring to company CEO Ron Tutor.

    joe Reply:

    Yes. The Law is too cost centric. It needs to be reformed to include more technical factors and past performance.

    Still Tutor might have bitten off more than they realize. This isn’t a city airport, or county tunnel. It’s a flagship state project with national importance and highly political.

    If you look at the article you quoted I believe there have been instances where the Gov’t was close to litigating and would have if the parties had political backing.

    They’ll monitor this closely to stay on budget and no hesitation to make an example out of an under bidding contractor.

  12. trentbridge
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 17:35
    #12

    Well those frikken’ construction companies! How dare they come in with bids at or below the estimates! It’s getting so much harder to argue that ballooning costs of high speed rail are destroying the Californian economy. Even the federal deficit is shrinking!

    “The federal budget deficit is shrinking rapidly. …In the 12 months through March 2013, the deficit totaled $911 billion, or 5.7% of GDP. In the first three months of calendar 2013–that is, since the increase in payroll and income tax rates took effect on January 1–we estimate that the deficit has averaged just 4.5% of GDP on a seasonally adjusted basis. This is less than half the peak annual deficit of 10.1% of GDP in fiscal 2009. ”

    Now what will our “standard Republican-leaning” beloved grandchildren worry about?

    “Grandpa – Were you lying when you said the monsters under my bed were “out-of-control” State and Federal Government spending?

    Joey Reply:

    Well those frikken’ construction companies! How dare they come in with bids at or below the estimates!

    If they didn’t have a history of cost overruns I don’t think anyone would have a problem with it.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Now what will our “standard Republican-leaning” beloved grandchildren worry about?

    Probably about collapse of all of the oceanic ecosystems and about the coming uninhabitability by mammals of much of the formerly temperate latitudes of the planet. Loss of all the planet’s coastal cities to sea level rise might also figure as a lesser issue. And globe-spanning warfare. There may also be other concerns, but those worries will be up there.

    VBobier Reply:

    National Repubs/Teabaggers have largely spewed denial about climate change being man made, so I highly doubt they’ll suddenly change their stripes…

    trentbridge Reply:

    “Global warming is, as defined, “a global problem” – the Government spending “issue” is a national and state issue. The Republican Party has never, ever been enthusiastic about the United Nations and therefore the United States is usually the obstacle to getting things done internationally – like the UN treaty limiting arms sales –

    “Republican Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania on Wednesday called on Americans to do everything within their power to block the United Nation’s Arms Trade Treaty.

    “Our folks have got to get on board with this,” he said on NRA News. “We have this ATTpetition.com — we need to be more on fire than we ever have to send a loud and clear message to this president and his administration: Stop it. Stop turning the sovereignty of the United States of America over to people who don’t have the same concerns, don’t have the same value systems, don’t have the same beliefs as us.”

    Yes, folks, he must mean Syria and North Korea who voted against this treaty who obviously share his beliefs in the sacrosanct “national sovereignty” argument.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Don’t be so sure sea level rise is a lesser issue. In the first world it is (the Netherlands can afford to build dikes, the US can afford to resettle people from Miami and Stockton). In the third world, not so much.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That’s not going to do any good. Stockton is at sea level.

    http://www.deltaboating.com/tides/stockton.php

    So is Sacramento, Trenton, Albany, Richmond, Hartford….

    VBobier Reply:

    Alon didn’t mean from Miami to Stockton, He said “from Miami and Stockton”.

    @ Alon: Congressional Repubs the way they are, they’d deny money to build dikes, to them it’s sink or swim on your own, especially money to a Blue state, like CA. Their ideology doesn’t like foreign ideas, Dikes and HSR to them are very foreign…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    My point exactly. “Resettle people from Miami and Stockton” = “resettle people living in metro areas that would be completely flooded.”

    Sacramento is also at risk, though a sea level rise that’s small enough to be plausible in this century outside apocalyptic scenarios will not do much to it. The same is true of cities near sea level like New York, Boston, etc. A few neighborhoods like the Rockaways and East Harlem are at risk, but most of the metro area in each of those cases is safe. In the case of the inland fall line cities like Albany, nearly the entire metro area is safe; the Hudson is at sea level, but the land slopes sharply and even areas a few hundred meters from the river are safe.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Oh, and I forgot New Orleans. But apart from it, Miami, and Stockton, no metro area in North America is going to go underwater except in parts.

  13. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 21:03
    #13
  14. missiondweller
    Apr 13th, 2013 at 21:48
    #14

    Isn’t there a basic rule that states never take the lowest bid?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Depends on where. In New Yor kthey have to take the lowest bid.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Indeed. In contrast, in Indiana they have to take the lowest bid which is considered *responsive*, but they have a lot of latitude to reject bids for being implausible or not meeting criteria.

    The standards for that sort of rejection vary from state to state, and NY is apparently one of the worst in terms of not being able to blacklist bad contractors.

    Travis D Reply:

    In California the law says that you almost always have to take the lowest bid. In my county there is a law that says the lowest bid gets the contract every time regardless of technical issues. This has not worked out so well for us.

  15. Reedman
    Apr 14th, 2013 at 10:07
    #15

    The Central Valley segment was chosen to build first specifically because it is the simplest. The only problem I foresee is that the work will finish behind schedule. Running trains on that segment is “a whole ‘nother kettle of fish”, however …

  16. Derek
    Apr 14th, 2013 at 12:57
    #16

    Does Government Create Jobs?
    By Steve Horowitz, LearnLiberty.org, 2013-04-08

    “Many government jobs programs are really about meeting the needs of politicians, not the needs of consumers in the marketplace. Governments are good at creating work, but they’re not good about creating value-generating jobs.

    “The best jobs-creation program in human history is the free market and the entrepreneurship it generates.

    Nathanael Reply:

    :eyeroll: Insane, evidence-free propaganda.

    joe Reply:

    But defense cuts will cost the US 1 Million jobs and 25% of our GDP growth.

    http://secondtonone.org/analysis-projects-one-million-jobs-at-risk-from-defense-cuts#sthash.mc3RAr6u.dpbs

    Analysis Projects One Million Jobs at Risk from Defense Cuts

    Cuts Would Lower Projected GDP Growth by 25%

    Arlington, Va. — An economic impact analysis projects more than one million American jobs could be lost as a result of defense budget cuts if the deficit reduction select committee fails to reach agreement on alternative balanced budget solutions and total cuts to defense reach $1 trillion.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s so stupid that people refer to budget deals in terms of 10-year cost instead of annual cost.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This exchange typifies the insanity which passes for economic discussion most of the time.

    In reality, we oughtta cut the useless military jobs and, you know, reemploy those people building useful things domestically, useful things which private industry isn’t building. Can we have the Civilian Conservation Corps back please? Sigh.

  17. Stephen Smith
    Apr 14th, 2013 at 13:19
    #17

    How cost and technical elements were weighted in Spain, the world’s lowest-cost rail builder, during the 1999-2003 Metro Madrid expansion:

    In the evaluation of the tenders, cost conideration amounted only to 30% of the evaluation. Some 20% was allocated to the evaluation of project time, and the remaining 50% was allocated after an evaluation of the technical merits of the proposals, and of staff considerations.

    Leaving aside the time component, the Dragados consortium likely would have won had this been judged by Spanish authorities.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Face it, the “Spanish authorities” would not have conceived the CAHSR scheme we are stuck with, let alone build it.

    California exceptionalism is required.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Of course not, they would have built Los Angeles to Las Vegas decades ago.

    synonymouse Reply:

    First they would have implemented ordinary passenger service on the existing railroad and found the market quite insubstantial and with no financial incentive or succor forthcoming from the likes of Mssrs. Adelson and Wynn they then would have quietly shelved any future passenger upgrade plans.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They would have seen 15 million people and 300 miles of railroad to be built. Most of it across flat uninhabited cheap land. They wouldn’t have implemented ordinary passenger service because ordinary passenger service isn’t competitive when the trip is 300 miles long.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Are there 15 million people in Nevada?

    Derek Reply:

    13 million in L.A. and 2 million in Las Vegas.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And none of those 13 million have any pressing need to go to Nevada. California already has way more drugs, alcohol and hookers than Nevada. All it needs to out-vice Nevada is to pass one little law legalizing, setting up a gaming commission to license and regulate, and set the level of taxation. Hell, the capital of the porno industry is the San Fernando Valley. What the f**k, literally.

    Within a few years all that gambling revenue will stay right here to help pay for all those guys on welfare milling around in downtown LA and SF, yada yada. And no need for spending any money whatsoever on a line to a Nevada ghost town.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yet they go there anyway.

    Jon Reply:

    You only think no one wants to go to Vegas because you prefer the local Native American casinos. Classic case of projection. I have no desire to go to Vegas either, yet somehow I manage to wrap my head around the concept that other people do want to go there.

    Travis D Reply:

    Yes, if only they would make it legal to construct Eiffel Towers no one would go to Paris. Because no one ever goes to a place for its ambiance, history and social stature.

    synonymouse Reply:

    People go to Sin City for “its ambiance, history and social stature.”?

    All that is required is to fully legalize and within several years California will have everything LV has amid a much nicer locale. Sin City is just a jerkwater on the route from LA to Salt Lake that used to be just hot but now is smoggy as well. It is definitely not Hawaii.

    Strictly an artificial phenomenon stemming from California 20th century snobbery and puritanism. Apparently there was a time it was mooted merging Nevada with California because Nevada was so poor. And perhaps that generosity had something todo letting Nevada leech off California revenue when the Golden State was at the top of its game. But that is no longer the case with California bearing what, 30-40%, of the national welfare burden.

    But Nevada does allow one to keep gerbils and prairie dogs as pets. Enlightened.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    All that is required is to fully legalize and within several years California will have everything LV has amid a much nicer locale.

    No it won’t.
    Just like opening a community theater doesn’t make it Broadway. Of opening a sound stage doesn’t make it Hollywood. Or opening a trading floor doesn’t make it Wall Street, though trading floors are a bit of an anachronism.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Actually…

    What RENFE would have noticed is the similarity between Las Vegas as the Costa del Sol. Lots of tourists from places like Britain relying on cheap nonstop flights while bypassing Madrid and the state airline, Iberia’s hub. By building the AVE to Sevilla, then Malaga, they created an efficient funnel between Madrid and the south, which is the most dependent part of the country on tourism.

    And pushing people through Madrid, they get the spillover effect of more tourists tramping through and spending a day or two at the Prado as opposed to crammed into their easyJet from Stansted.

    What the European firms (and to some extent to the Asian ones too) get hung up on is that many state capitals in the US aren’t the transportation and financial hub of their respective states. Do you make SF or LA the hub of CAHSR? Do you base your decision on population, or wealth per capita? Do you worry about geographic concerns, or current ridership.

    Eric Reply:

    Chicago and NY are clearly hubs of their regions. It doesn’t make sense to speak of the “hub” of a single city pair. Who would think to go by state boundaries? Even in Europe that doesn’t always work, like in Benelux or Austria.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You are correct regarding Chicago and NY. And that is why the modeling for those HSR networks is furthest along. But because they are interstate, one particularly difficult entity can foul things up. (New Jersey, Indiana)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The hub of California is unambiguously LA. Just because SF is older and thinks of itself as LA’s equal doesn’t make it so. The LA:SF population ratio is not much lower than the New York:DC ratio, and LA is actually a slightly bigger percentage of California’s population than New York is of the Northeast’s. LA has to deal with one strong second city; New York has to deal with 2.5.

    LA is also the correct infrastructure hub in terms of which city pairs can be connected. To get anywhere from SF outside California, you need to cross mountains that are too complex for the small cities that lie on the other side within HSR range. But LA can be connected to San Diego and Phoenix, and is closer to Vegas.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The hub of California is unambiguously LA.

    Have you ever stepped foot in the Golden State? Would you like to visit sometime?

    Los Angeles’s population advantage is a product of turning Congressional districts into federal spending. Roads, aqueducts, military bases.

    The imitators (Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson) owe their continued existence to Washington’s desire to not let L.A. suck the Colorado River dry.

    New York City is the nation’s financial center. Chicago and San Francisco are both regional financial centers with historical roots as such. Los Angeles is company town that just happens to belong to more than one company.

    Los Angeles is geographically isolated; you have to enter or exit the L.A. Basin through either mountain passes or canyons.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    California exceptionalism makes the place with the most people not the hub?
    There’s more to life than banking.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Los Angeles’ economic prowess does not match its population. Making it the hub would be short-sighted and not reflective of how the State is going to look when the project is done. The defense plants are gone. The water supplies are almost tapped out. And there’s gridlock on the freeways, and no cheap gas to boot. Every advantage Southern California used to have is gone.

    Most of California’s politicians, and it’s GDP hails from the north. We are just waiting for population to catch up…..

    joe Reply:

    The word hub implies a .. well hub. LA is a port, it is a destination but how is it a hub?

    Hiking, Skiing, Ocean, coastal and out of state travel all accessible without LA.

    Chicago is a great lakes – Mississippi portage, a rail centre, located at the shortest route around the great lakes complex from east to north west US and E/W and N/S airport hub.

    swing hanger Reply:

    As someone who has lived in both NorCal and the Southland for 20+ years, LA is the dominant region- most transcontinental rail freight and trucking ends/begins there, the port is bigger than Oakland, and the international airport serves more destinations- something I am always reminded of when I get cheaper fares and more frequent flights via LAX than SFO on transpacific routes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    it’s GDP hails from the north

    No doesn’t. There are more people in Los Angeles county than in the Bay Area.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_locations_by_per_capita_income

    If I did the arithmetic correctly the GDP of Los Angeles county 268 billion, roughly a quarter of the State’s GDP. Which isn’t surprising since roughly a quarter of the state’s population lives in Los Angeles county. Orange County’s is 102 billion so roughly ten percent. A little over a third of the state’s in those two counties. Throw in Riverside and Ventura at another ten percent and 40% of the state’s GDP is in those four counties. Throw in San Diego and you are hovering at half the state’s GDP. Throw in San Bernandino and it’s definitely half the State’s GDP.

    The people in Marin County are using 100 dollar bills to blow their noses. There aren’t many of them.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Nice list you have there, Adirondacker.

    Notice that all the counties at the top are in the north, not the south…

    joe Reply:

    swing hanger:
    “most transcontinental rail freight and trucking ends/begins there, ”

    That’s not a hub. It makes littler sense to consider LA a rail hub for CA – it doesn’t have the geographic attributes.

    It’s not dominate in Nor Cal – you don’t really need to engage LA when in Nor Cal. LATimes isn’t the State newspaper.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Southern California (defined as Surfliner+Metrolink+Imperial County) is 56% of the state’s GDP. Los Angeles County alone is 25% of California’s GDP.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Notice that all the counties at the top are in the north, not the south

    Yes and GDP is a measure of aggregate income not per capita income. Bill Gates is very very rich. His annual income is still a lot less than China’s GDP. His net worth is still a lot less than China’s GDP.

    The state with the highest per capita income is Delaware with 69,667. It’s GDP is 62 billion. Alaska is second at 65,143. It’s GDP is 45 billion. Connecticut is third at 64,833. It’s GDP is 233 billion. There are a lot more people in Connecticut. More than Delaware and Alaska combined. New York comes in at number 7 by per capita income but it’s GDP is 1.1 trillion. What state is richer? Delaware or New York?

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ adirondacker

    Could be that George Lucas and SMART “and using 100 dollar bills to blow their noses”. But most of the Marinites are pretty tight with their money. Now Silicon Valley is the land of conspicuous consumption. Whatever happened with Steve Jobs’ new mansion now that he is gone? Never heard anything more.

    SMART got into a little dustup with local influential builder Ghilotti Bros. over who is going to pay for a $600k consolidated grade crossing. But no doubt Ghilotti will figure out a way to get even in time.

    Eric Reply:

    A hub implies multiple spokes connected to a center. Which spokes, besides the LA one, would connect to SF? Hint: there are no plausible ones. Even if the Bay Area were the economic hub, it would not be the HSR hub.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ted, I just visited LA in February. The people I know from there discount SF as a small city that thinks it’s as big as LA and isn’t.

    LA and SF both began their lives as resource extraction-focused cities: SF for the Gold Rush, LA for turn-of-the-century oil extraction. They’ve both moved on. LA has the highest manufacturing GDP (not GDP per capita) in the US. SF has finance and software. SF is richer per capita, but LA is much bigger. Neither is extracting money from the government in any way: as of 2004-5, both are net federal tax donors, each paying about $40 billion in federal taxes more than it gets back in federal spending.

    LA is not a Californian rail hub; the network in California has a single trunk with two branches in each direction, so there’s no real hub. But if you add cities outside California that could plausibly be connected to California by HSR, then LA becomes the hub. SF, lying on a branch, is the second city. California has a strong second city – like Japan, Spain, and Brazil, but unlike France, the UK, or Mexico – but it also has a very strong first city, stronger than any of the above-mentioned countries due to its large share of the population.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Could be that George Lucas and SMART “and using 100 dollar bills to blow their noses”.

    Ten Saulsalitians get together to swill five bottles of 200 dollar wine. 1000 Los Angelenos go out and buy a 6 dollar six packs of Old Fizzy beer each. who spent more money

    Ted Judah Reply:

    For the record, I grew up in Southern California, went to school there, and until I took a job out of State would have never disagreed with Alon’s premise.

    But then, from the outside looking in, it became much easier to see the systemic issues that CA faces. Basically, the State is upside-down. The majority of the population should be in the north where the economy is more diverse and natural resources are more plentiful. But it’s the south that has always been better at the population growth game.

    This goes back to the turn of the 20th century when Los Angeles fancied itself an “open shop” and SF was a union town. L.A. kept laying more federally subsidized pipe, asphalt, and cable TV wire until it was second only to New York City. But the rank-and-file employers in Southern California are almost all gone: it’s just the studios now. The defense plants, the tire factories, the auto plants are but a memory.

    Up north, the banks, the tech companies, a few manufacturers and big food processors remain. It’s but a skeleton of what used to be, but at least it’s enough to nurture future growth.

    James in PA Reply:

    LA is a defocused hub and it has multiple sub-hubs for example: LAX, the ports of LA and San Pedro, and the studios between Hollywood and Burbank. Down-town LA is dense with high-rise buildings but the for the majority of the population going to work, school, and shopping, down-town LA might as well not exist. The concept of a LA regional hub is about a vague as the smog that covers it.

    VBobier Reply:

    Aren’t you getting tired of shoveling that old “no one rides trains manure” Syno? Yer not getting converts and you never will, HSR will be built and you and yer buddies can’t stop it, you don’t have the balls to go up against Government, it would take an armed coup to stop HSR in CA and that will never happen.

  18. JJJJ
    Apr 14th, 2013 at 13:25
    #18

    It still pisses me off to no end that they rather spend $300m to move the entire 99 highway onto some poor dudes houses, than tell UP to go screw themselves and deal with an elevated structure.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The UP can deal with hard times and survive by belt tightening.

    A government-run CAHSR with a militant union like the TWU would probably defer maintenance andlower speeds. And still face a strike when they cut off the OT or cracked down on no-shows.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You have no idea, do you. The freight railroad unions are much more hardcore and recalcitrant than the TWU.

    The freight railroad unions operate on the LIRR.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s expensive to tell UP to go screw themselves. Because of the federal railroad laws, it either requires (a) federal support, or (b) buying the whole damn company.

    Now, I strongly advocate (b). Why shouldn’t the California government collect the future profits of UP? Buy out the existing stockholders at a reasonable premium, take the land they need (excess land on the UP right-of-way), and give the budget a shot in the arm. We’ve had experience with government-owned freight railways in the Northeast — Conrail — and it worked out fine.

    However, nobody’s thinking in those terms.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yahoo says Union Pacific’s market cap. was 66.3 billion when the markets closed. Give ’em 60 billion for the real estate that’s ROW and not things like yards and office buildings in Omaha. Sell the ROW not in California to the other states or the Federal government.

    ..in other states corporations are glad to get rid of excess real estate. Excess real estate sits around eating property taxes, liability premiums etc. In California it’s real estate taxes are based on it’s assessment 35 years ago….. in other states when they protest that they need a 30 foot buffer the tax assessor can then say “so this land you have been telling us is nearly worthless isn’t so worthless is it?, it’s a critical safety system…”

    Conrail sorta kinda worked out okay-ish. Conrail made some decisions, in hindsight, that were really really dumb. On the other hand if Conrail still owned the ROW between Albany and Chicago there would be little discussion of 30 foot buffers etc.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Conrail sorta kinda worked out okay-ish. Conrail made some decisions, in hindsight, that were really really dumb.”

    “Over-rationalization” and Penn Central bias are usually blamed: the ex-Lehigh, ex-DLW, ex-Erie, ex-NJC lines were preferentially dismantled.

    “On the other hand if Conrail still owned the ROW between Albany and Chicago there would be little discussion of 30 foot buffers etc.”

    Yeah. Good summary.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    On the other hand, privatization led to under-rationalization – two ROWs through Cleveland, etc.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You, of course, realize that at one point there was a mighty similar arrangement wherein the Southern Pacific Railroad was an independent company that outright controlled California’s government? That arrangement is constitutional…but I don’t know what would happen if a State tried to buy the successor UP today.

    Most of the UP’s track is in other states, and they control two of the four major transcontinental routes. That’s a lot of power for one state to yield on the rest. And what exactly does California need with numerous tracks in Illinois, anyway?

    But what I could see happening is the high speed rail system could merge with other companies like airlines, grocery stores, etc, to form a very big corporation that would be not that different from the all powerful SP in late 19th century California. The current owner of UP, Phillip Anschutz tried to use their ROW in Colorado to run fiber-optic wire down for the benefit of the other company he owned, Qwest.

    (Also, people should remember that the telegraph system piggybacked on railroads at first.)

    The moral of the story from the 19th century though, was that as powerful as the SP was, it was not strong enough to handle the impact of the 1906 Quake that brought the patronage system down. The Progressives were able to rally support for an independent bureaucracy over the course of a decade…and here we are.

    Now, you could always suggest buying UP’s California track only, but if you look at a map, you realize that’s not possible. The rest of it would turn worthless, and there’s no point in buying part of the company.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Aside from the fact that Union Pacific’s shareholders won’t agree to it, it would be atrociously expensive,would require to pass California initiative process, and would require Federal approval for the purchase via the STB?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Since this is a fantasy anyway, Congress, the Presidents and the courts could decide otherwise. Woodrow Wilson nationalized the railroads in 1917. Took the Pennsylvania Railroad until 1926 to evict the Baltimore and Ohio from Manhattan.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It would not require STB approval, because it’s merely a change in ownership, not a merger. :-) I

    It would not require UP shareholder approval per se — tender offers don’t — it would only require that a majority decide to sell out. Which, at the right price, they would.

    Would it have to pass the California initiative process? Well, no. It would just have to pass 2/3 of both houses of the legislature. Someone might put up an initiative to NOT do it, of course. I realize getting 2/3 legislative approval is a fantasy at the moment. Sigh.

    Would it be very expensive? Yeah, sure, but the dividends would be pretty damn good. You can’t say that for a lot of state investments.

    Giving California power over many other states? Well, hell, you could do a lot worse than having California have power over Kansas. :-) Personally, I would be OK with California sucking money out of Illinois et al, rather than having the UP do the money-sucking. California is important enough economically to be its own country anyway.

    Nathanael Reply:

    For reference, both cities and states do own railroad tracks outside their borders. Already.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (The STB issue is subtler than it appears. UP is organized as a holding company which owns a railroad operating company. A change in ownership of the operating company would require STB approval, but a change in ownership of the holding company doesn’t, which is a loophole. I experienced this loophole as a stockholder during the Southern Pacific Company / Santa Fe Industries merger.)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It still pisses me off to no end that they rather spend $300m to move the entire 99 highway onto some poor dudes houses, than tell UP to go screw themselves and deal with an elevated structure.

    “Do whatever you please,” said Brer Rabbit. “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

    PBQD=CHSRA and its very very very very special contractor mafia friends are always very disappointed indeed when the most expensive and most intrusive and least utile solutions are “forced” upon them, either by big old mean old Union Pacific, or by “community leaders”, or, when all else fails, by their own “alternatives” “analysis”. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to justify the tens of billions of added expense.

  19. Jonathan
    Apr 14th, 2013 at 15:56
    #19

    I don’t mean to sound skeptical since the low bid is good news from a cost perspective. I wish we knew more details about the technical aspects of the bids, but I also have confidence that the project will be built in a good way that lays the spine for this crucial project in the coming years.

    You “have confidence that the project will be built in a good way”? Given the well-known negative track record of the winning bidder? Robert, you are really reaching on that one. Your uniform cheer-leading is getting so predictable, so asinine, that it lacks any value.

    What could the Authority possibly do that you *wouldn’t* cast in a positive light?

    jimsf Reply:

    likewise the predictable, reactionary, negativity displayed on this blog has reached such a point that even when there is good news, and no matter how good any part of the project turns out, this crowd will leave no stone unturned in order to find something to criticize.

    Tony D Reply:

    What do you expect from a bunch of old geriatrics who have to much time on their hands. “High speed rail, change…GRRRR! “

    synonymouse Reply:

    “a bunch of old geriatrics who have to much time on their hands.” Would that not be the California “Classe Politique”(catchy phrase from French tv) not only with too much time but way overcompensated?

    And speaking of Moonbeam the LA Times is bitching the Gurunator is not delivering fast enough on his threat and promise to flush NorCal water down South to turn Palmdale.into a second LaLa.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cap-water-20130415,0,6888031.column

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m 24.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Enjoy it – it does not come around again.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yeah, the 60’s was more fun anyways…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jump on the #22 trolley coach for 15 cents and head on over to the Fillmore to see Buffalo Springfield.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, in my social group I’m one of about the half that have more or less reliable, skilled jobs.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Now I feel old. 37.

    I was watching as the country went to hell, but it was a kid. You’re too young to remember Reagan, though possibly just barely old enough to remember the fall of the USSR (the defining moment for people in my generation).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t remember Reagan at all. I remember Bush Sr. and the Gulf War. I don’t remember the fall of communism but I do remember parents telling me about communism a bit later.

    Jesse D. Reply:

    I’m 26. Younger generation represent.

    Meanwhile the old duffers that grew up with their 25 cent gas still think it’s 25 cents.

    joe Reply:

    and guys in jumpsuits pump the gas and clean the windshield.

    jimsf Reply:

    Here’s the thing. First of all, 24 year olds think they are the center of the universe. In your twenties, you think you know a bunch of stuff and have a clear idea about the future. I did too. We all did. The fact is 20 somethings don’t actually know anything they think they know. They also have complete disregard when older people point that out. I did too. We all did. You will be no different. You don’t even begin to know anything about anything until you’re in your 50s and up. Im 48. I cant wait to get into my 50s so i can finally relax a little. 20 somethings think that their generation is going to save the world from its previously created ills. Ours did. so did the one before us. Yours is no different. Your priorities will change. You don’t believe it, and there is zero convincing a 20 year old of anything because they don’t realize they don’t know anything.
    That said, you know what is really sad? The way younger people have accepted things such as self check out, self serve gas, automated everything. etc etc. And you don’t even realiz e you are paying more for stuff and not getting any service. If I’m paying freakin 5 bucks a gallon for gas you should be washing my windows, checking my oil and tires and giving me a blowjob, for that price. likewise when im paying 4 bucks for a loaf of bread. you guys dont even realize you are getting screwed.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    As opposed to old farts who think they know a bunch of stuff and have a clear idea of the future?

    That said, you know what is really sad? The way younger people have accepted things such as self check out, self serve gas, automated everything. etc etc. And you don’t even realiz e you are paying more for stuff and not getting any service. If I’m paying freakin 5 bucks a gallon for gas you should be washing my windows, checking my oil and tires and giving me a blowjob, for that price. likewise when im paying 4 bucks for a loaf of bread. you guys dont even realize you are getting screwed.

    Two things:
    1. Inflation, have you heard of it?
    2. You are the most ridiculously self-entitled person I have ever met.

    jimsf Reply:

    relax. you’ll see

    VBobier Reply:

    Inflation, yeah I’ve heard of it, in Jan 2013 it was 1.7%, in Feb it was 2.0%, sorry there is no data for March yet…

    jimsf Reply:

    I must say i’m touched by your concern for oil company profits. it would be a burden for them to use some of that money to actually provide a civilized level ofservice while they are screwing you. self serve gas is like digging your own grave before your execution or applying your own lube .

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The oil companies don’t pump gas. Independent contractors do. Oil companies may own the station but someone rents it, runs it and hires the people who work behind the counter. If enough people didn’t like pumping their own gas there would be gas stations that had attendants and that charged more for the delight of having someone else pump your gas.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    1. Gas stations are typically franchises, the oil companies profit margins are not affected by whether their franchisees choose to save money by not providing service. For that matter, gas station profits are predominated by selling of items, with very little profit on the gasoline itself (about 4¢ per gallon).
    2. At no point did I express concern for the profits of oil companies (which would be rather at odds with my strong support for passenger railroad electrification and for electric cars). What I did express concern with was your ignorance of inflation and your self-entitled prima donna “I have mine, screw everyone else” attitude which appears so often in your comments.

    jimsf Reply:

    I actually found a full service station in pismo. I couldn’t believe it. it’s only ten cents more and it is a delight

    joe Reply:

    Hey JimSF’s nailed it.

    In IL self-serve gasoline stations were illegal until Gov. “big” Jim Thompson signed a law which made it a race to the bottom.

    Full service stations HELPED the small owner make more profit – stations competed against others by training and hiring good staff.

    They did a good job on the windows, (yes people sitting in the car checked if the job was done right) and good stations checked tires and fluids too. It cost a bit more but the money went to the kid working at the station and a good owner had good, motivated staff.

    It was a good job in HS too and kids had some status working at a gasoline station near the HS.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, I think I’m entitled to rent an apartment at fair market price as determined by construction costs on the margin, sudden shocks that it takes the housing stock time to adjust to, a reasonable developer and owner profit, and so on. Alas, the greedy homeowners realized that it’s legal for them to turn into a cartel and pass laws restricting new development so that I’m paying a multiple of the actual market price. They take from the generation that’s facing 20% unemployment and 50% underemployment to fund the pensions of Generation Greed. They take from the generation that’s more diverse to give to people who are by a large majority white and don’t like the color of North America today. They take from the poor to give to the rich, because that’s how one becomes rich in the feudal social structure that exists in the world today.

    (I also think I’m entitled to live where I want and not just where the global aristocracy consisting of all US citizens thinks I should be allowed to live, but that’s a separate issue.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So Robert Moses should have been able to tear down a block or two wide swath through SoHo so the Holland Tunnel could connect with the Brooklyn Bridge? Or the Lincoln Tunnel with the Queens Midtown Tunnel?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not the same thing. If people don’t want infrastructure, they don’t want infrastructure. The problem of local control is that there are two specific incentives that need to be eliminated: the incentive to exclude people of lower social class, and the incentive to create a shortage of housing. Opposing a road, or a railroad, is about opposing a piece of infrastructure with some negative effects that is mainly not serving the area; opposing more housing is about opposing people who are going to live in the area. Now the motives for opposing infrastructure may be NIMBY (just as nationalism is part of the motive for opposing Keystone but not equivalent pipelines that are about American oil production or consumption), but there are legitimate motives out there. There’s no legitimate motive for keeping out people.

    Donk Reply:

    Jim, you have by far the best rants on this blog. Overall, you nailed it. I am 35 and, in general, like the enthusiasm but have to roll my eyes from time to time when talking to people below 28 or so. People my age and older are more crotchety but at least are more realistic about the world.

    Joey Reply:

    By having a combination of idealists and realists in our decision making we can reach compromises which are ambitions and innovative but not wasteful. The issues arise when one group devalues the other’s opinion.

    Eric Reply:

    Yeah, and people MY age are less prone to incorrect generalizations.

    Jonathan Reply:

    No, it’s more: “Transport-industrial complex business as usual. Quelle surprise!”

    synonymouse Reply:

    But it is frustrating we cannot do any better than b-grade. To keep it BART mediocre PB will have to 86 any foreigners or private investors to whom the deficiencies would be transparent.

    In that sense Tutor is just about perfect for PB. The latter not only won’t care if they get a carbuilder with little hsr experience they will look for it(read Bombardier and/or Breda). They won’t want any uppity Alstom but maybe the Japanese would go along with reinventing the wheel(California exceptionalism),discreetly zip the lip, just for the money and publicity.

    Clem Reply:

    Fyra all over again (AnsaldoBreda’s latest turd)

    Jonathan Reply:

    Fyra was the service. Briefly, and years late, and for only a few months until the trainsets were de-certified.
    The AnsaldoBreda trainsets in question were the V250.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Fyra all over again

    If only!

    Luxury!

    You forgot:
    Designed and specified by PBQD.
    Redesigned by FRA.
    Redesigned by CPUC.
    Made in America.
    CBOSS compatible.
    TSA appproved.
    Feet and inches and pounds and slugs and kips.
    Redesigned by Amtrak.
    Co-procured with Amtrak.
    Sole source procurement.
    Local business preference.
    Kickbacks galore!
    Freight compatible.
    Too big to fail.
    Maintained the American Way.
    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Meh. It wasn’t signed in triplicate, lost, and found.

    joe Reply:

    I thought the world was going to burn so stop making a big deal and hand wringing over PBQD.

    It will all implode regardless if they use your time tables or engineer with Swiss precision.

    Chill in your Noe Valley Lair and wait until the hetch hetchy dries up and your spigots stop flowing.

    Joey Reply:

    I doubt someone living in Noe Valley would have as much experience with CalTrain as Richard.

    joe Reply:

    Huh?

    He claims to have bought there recently. And FWIW I lived there and rode Caltrain – met my lovely wife om that commute, the front car.

    Joey Reply:

    Perhaps I was mistaken. But CalTrain isn’t easy to get to from there. Maybe Cesar Chavez to 22nd Street isn’t too bad.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    [citation needed]

  20. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 14th, 2013 at 17:11
    #20

    This might be of interest here:

    http://wamu.org/news/13/04/12/contractors_vying_for_silver_line_phase_ii_have_history_of_busting_budgets

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Off topic but possibly related to the level of complaining in California (and the South and West in general) about taxes:

    http://news.yahoo.com/ap-exclusive-likely-tax-cheats-flock-south-west-115201378.html

  21. jimsf
    Apr 14th, 2013 at 17:29
    #21

    Ot valley news
    be managing the san joaquins under new jpa

    jimsf Reply:

    oh that should have read” sac regional transit may manage san joaquin jpa”

    thatbruce Reply:

    Will Sacramento Regional Transit be managing the San Joaquins under new JPA?.

  22. BKwong
    Apr 14th, 2013 at 22:38
    #22

    Has there been a trial date set for the “CAHSRA vs. Everyone Interested” lawsuit?

  23. synonymouse
    Apr 15th, 2013 at 10:44
    #23
  24. Keith Saggers
    Apr 15th, 2013 at 12:08
    #24

    The Madera – Fresno construction contract is the first of five to be let covering the first phase of the line in the Central Valley. Estimated to cost up to $31bn, this 480 km Initial Operating Section would connect Merced with the San Fernando Valley; trains are scheduled to begin running in 2022.
    Railway Gazette

    VBobier Reply:

    Here’s the link to the Railway Gazette article you mentioned.

  25. Keith Saggers
    Apr 15th, 2013 at 13:21
    #25

    http://soa.li/ihyW6sQ
    LA Times

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    soa.li? Nein danke.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Chinese tech for and on the DogLeg – “poiiffect” as Curly would say.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Keith Saggers:

    Don’t use url shorteners. You can easily put in the full link, and future readers aren’t dependent on a questionable service.

  26. Keith Saggers
    Apr 15th, 2013 at 14:58
    #26

    Brown’s top economic advisor and rail commission appointee, Mike Rossi, met in Beijing with Chinese investors eager for an update on its progress. And China’s vice minister of commerce told a hotel ballroom packed with California government and business officials that his country wanted to explore “the possibility of investment in the high-speed rail project in California.”

    A few potential vendors have already expressed interest. California rail board chief Dan Richard is set to meet Saturday with the China Railway Construction Corp., the country’s second-largest government-owned construction concern.

    On Thursday evening, Brown, Richard and representatives of California-based railroad companies rode China’s sleek bullet train to this bustling port city from Beijing, a five-hour trip that covered about 750 miles, roughly the distance from San Diego to the Oregon border. Strolling the aisles, shaking hands with Chinese passengers, Brown extolled the nation’s 5,000-mile complex of high-speed rail, built in the last seven years.

    “People here do stuff,” the governor said. “They don’t sit around and mope and process and navel-gaze. The rest of the world is moving at Mach speed.”

    The Chinese interest in California’s project is a welcome boost for Brown. Although state voters approved $10 billion in bonds for a high-speed railway in 2008, they have soured on it as cost estimates have ballooned by tens of billions of dollars. The governor, who has vowed repeatedly to see the train system built, needs at least an additional $55 billion to make it happen.

    Republicans in Congress have threatened to cut off funding from Washington, saying the bullet train is unnecessary and too costly. Much of the money will have to come from elsewhere.

    “We are very interested in California,” said rail car designer and engineer Jiang Lay, as the train to Shanghai zoomed along Thursday, without the jerky stops familiar to Amtrak riders. His company, Tangshan Vehicle Co., built the model Brown was riding. “We are very confident that our Chinese technology can be successful in America,” he said.

    The firm has formed a partnership with a U.S.-based company, Sun Group USA, to compete for California business. The company, which has significant Chinese financing, is exploring construction of a plant in Oakland.

    California officials and the Chinese government have already made preliminary agreements to work together on construction of the bullet train,

    State leaders, in fact, have long been laying the foundation for Chinese investment. In 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger led a delegation to Shanghai, where California’s rail chief held discussions with leaders of the China Investment Corp.

    The state-owned company has assets worth an estimated $480 billion, according to the Las Vegas-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, which monitors large global investors.

    Participants in the 2010 meetings said China was represented in some discussions by Kathleen Brown, sister of the current governor, who ran the West Coast municipal finance team for Goldman Sachs. No deals were inked, but nearly three years after those meetings, transportation officials in California say they now have a more compelling story to tell the Chinese.

    The federal government has chipped in $3 billion for the project, and last year state lawmakers approved the sale of $4.5 billion in bonds to help fund the first stage of construction. This summer, work is set to begin on the first segment of the network, which will connect the Central Valley towns of Madera and Bakersfield.

    Plans call for the train to reach the San Fernando Valley by 2022.

    Still, “there will probably have to be more up-front investment from the state before they get to the point where it’s really ripe for Chinese or any other outside investment,” said Sean Randolph, president of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, part of the group that organized the China trip for Brown and dozens of California business and political leaders.

    “A lot of progress has been made over the last three years,” Randolph said, but the project is “still speculative.”

    Brown’s traveling party boarded the Chinese train, named Harmony, Thursday after a private meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Earlier in the day, the governor had addressed Chinese officials, academics and others at prestigious Tsinghua University, pressing for policies that limit greenhouse gas emissions. On Wednesday, he and Chinese leaders signed environmental cooperation agreements.

    As the train raced through the Chinese countryside, a digital speedometer flashed speeds of 180 mph in the first-class cabin where Brown and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, had seats. Attendants offered snacks of salted dried plums and wasabi-coated peas.

    The governor had plenty of reading material for the journey: a copy of China’s five-year plan.

    anthony.york@latimes.com

    Jack Reply:

    As much as I would love a “do anything it takes to get this built” mindset there is something wrong when we have to turn to CHINA to fund this project. I’m younger but I remember reading about a time in history when we would have been appalled at this proposition and would get the work done ourselves.

    It should be so simple if China, Japan, Europe are chomping at the bit to build this project, why is our own gov’t so apathetic?

    VBobier Reply:

    Just look to Bid AG/Big Oil(KOCH Industries) and their pawn/political arm, the Tea Party, they don’t want HSR as it’s unwelcome competition for them…

    VBobier Reply:

    Should be Big AG/Big Oil(KOCH Industries), they view HSR as unwelcome competition and a threat of more to come nationwide…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Our government is run by idiots (in both parties) and controlled by the interests of a very stupid group of corporate CEOs. VBobier has mentioned Big Oil and Big Ag (Monsanto), but even more important are the Megabanks (JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Bank of America, etc.).

    Most of these megabanks are run quite blatantly as criminal operations with a business model based on defrauding their customers, and the CEOs have no interest in building anything: it’s all about the looting and stealing.

    Yes, something has gone badly wrong.

    VBobier Reply:

    Except for the parties, I’m in agreement, as the Republican Party has shown the most disregard for the public and the most in protecting their corporate campaign contributors, lumping both together seems wrong, as their not identical and don’t have the same corporations donating money to their respective political warchests, if they were, then I could believe that, but they aren’t, as not all corporations are alike, just like not all humans are alike.

    Nathanael Reply:

    By “our government” I mean the federal government in this case. State governments frequently still have sensible Democrats running them. However, there’s one key thing: the federal government can print money. The state governments generally can’t, not without some serious shenanigans.

    I strongly advocate California engaging in those shenanigans by creating a state-owned Bank of California. But as long as it doesn’t, the state has to go looking around for other sources of money.

    The federal government can just print money. It’s run by idiots who choose not to.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They choose not to at the moment. They didn’t have any problem running the printing presses flat out during either Bush Admin. or the Reagan Admin.

    Jonathan Reply:

    The federal government can just print money. It’s run by idiots who choose not to.

    Not really. the Fed have given us three rounds of Quantitative Easing The root cause is that Obama’s stimulus package was far too small — as was noted, at the time, by numerate economists.

    VBobier Reply:

    Repubs said it was far too large too…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, the Republicans were wrong. They said there was going to be hyperinflation; they were wrong. They said US borrowing costs would go up; they are still very close to zero in real terms. They said that it would reduce business confidence; in surveys, business owners say that the top problem for them is weak sales rather than anything related to labor or government regulations or taxes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Have Republicans been right about anything in the past 35 years?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The state governments are really no better than the feds. Albany is terrible, making Washington look functional. Springfield is even more terrible. Boston steals from transit riders to build roads. Sacramento is run by the kind of people who sponsor CEQA reform and then leave government to work for Chevron. Rhode Island is run by feudal family ties.

    And let’s not talk about the Republican states, the ones with the creationism in public schools.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Ya get what you pay for….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    New York’s $1-a-year mayor is worth every penny he’s earning.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Come again, exactly “who is chomping at the bit to build this project”?

    And do you really think PB is going to let the Chinese take over their project?

    swing hanger Reply:

    I have to agree, given the hyper-political and uncertain nature of building passenger rail infrastructure in NA- and business money hates uncertainty. You could say going to the Chinese, if this is truly a serious appeal, is an act of desperation.

  27. Andrew
    Apr 15th, 2013 at 20:29
    #27

    o/t
    World’s Top 100 airports 2013:
    http://www.worldairportawards.com/Awards_2013/top100.htm

    Only one US airport in top 30…Number 30.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Yes, it’s sad, especially when you consider that an international airport is typically the first experience and impression a foreign visitor has of the country they are visiting. Whenever I go back home for the holidays, the differences are readily apparent between where I started my journey and where I ended. And don’t get me started on domestic flights- ugh!

    Eric Reply:

    I’ve been in “good” and “bad” airports. While every one has its quirks, I haven’t found the “good” ones to be noticeably better than the “bad” ones. The factors that matter to me don’t seem to reflected in these rankings. Namely:
    – Sanity of security procedures
    – Waiting time for security, border control, etc.
    – Connectivity between different terminals
    – Transit connectivity to city

    For the most part, beyond those factors, airports are uniformly sterile, tiresome, and expensive.

    Michael Reply:

    I don’t get it. I left extra time on a trip last fall to enjoy Changi. Really long distances to gates. Not too good looking. I have no clue why it’s constantly rated #1.

    I’ll go on to my thoughts on the rest, as this is a blog…

    Incheon International Airport- Same trip, seemed small, which is good. Easy to get to train to city. I thought it was good, but concessions lacked.

    Amsterdam Schiphol Airport- Never flew into, but the HSR station is right under the terminal, which is impressive in an older airport.

    Vancouver International Airport- Like a very, very pretty US airport. Translink station was not well integrated. But a very nice airport.

    London Heathrow Airport- The only terminal I’ve known, where United is, is a stinking dump. A big mall with only one, very crowded pub. Miles of underground corridor, with endless HSBC ads, to reach the Underground or Heathrow Express. I don’t know about T5.

    Frankfurt Airport- Heathrow with German organization. The last few flights there, on United and Lufthansa, the plane has parked way out, we’ve de-planed the 747 via STAIRS, and taken a bus into the underside of the terminal. Plus? Really nice HST station development as close as possible to the terminals, although a planned upper level link into the terminal building hasn’t been built. My airport of choice for Europe.

    Kuala Lumpur International Airport- Haven’t been, but they seem to have a very nice express train to the Kuala Lumpur Central Station. KL seems to have their act together.

    Denver International Airport- Seriously?

    Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport- Architecturally very nice. Quick train into downtown’ish that will eventually grow into the regional rail network.

    San Francisco International Airport- My airport. Caltrain should have been upgraded instead of the BART-SFO project, but that’s water under the bridge. BART-SFO works well to/from San Francisco. The tunnels from Colma to SFO are mind-bogglingly loud, considering they had 30 years experience from the original tunnels. The thing I like about SFO is that the entire place is walkable. The art is also second to none that I’ve seen. Concessions are also very good. Now if we can just extend the peoplemover to Millbrae, it will work well to the south.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Now if we can just extend the peoplemover to Millbrae, it will work well to the south.

    I’m not seeing your irony-indicator…..

    Michael Reply:

    Not ironic. I mean for connections to Caltrain to the south (or north, or samTrans). The problem is the HORRIBLE connection now between Caltrain and SFO, which is mostly a “from the south” market. Getting off Caltrain at Millbrae, buying/paying a BART fare to either ride one stop or two stops, with a transfer, to get to SFO is a joke. SFO paid for the part of BART on SFO property, so a peoplemover to a San Bruno or Millbrae station could have happened. Many people (from observation) just get off at SFO and get on the peoplemover anyway, so it’s still a transfer.

    LAX is having this debate right now. LAX is less-walkable, so light rail into a central LAX station is even less attractive. Long walks across paring garage would result. Better a single transfer to a system serving all terminals.

    thatbruce Reply:

    For a metro rail system that supports automated operation, I’ve always found BART’s claim that a dedicated shuttle between Millbrae and SFO as being ‘too expensive to run’ hugely bogus. Run just a two car train on the service instead of a full length train and keep it on just one track, out of the way of the MillbraeSF service.

    ( Even if this was a service sponsored by SFO, BART would still find a way to keep passengers stuck in the Millbrae tunnel only when the Caltrain service was due in )

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Michael:

    I don’t get it. I left extra time on a trip last fall to enjoy Changi. Really long distances to gates. Not too good looking. I have no clue why it’s constantly rated #1.

    The airports in that list mostly have well thought out signage, clear lines of sight, few if any claustrophobic corridors, don’t feel cluttered and make a decent attempt to integrate with other transport methods. Having said that ( and I’ve only visited about 25 from that list ), the older parts of the airports generally aren’t as well designed as the more modern non-American designs from the mid-90s onward.

    Your perception of the airport also depends on which airline you fly. If you’re flying into an airline’s hub, you should be seeing the good side of the airport (the BA parts of Heathrow are nice). Not the airline’s hub, your experience is going to be worse (distant gates, not well-staffed facilities etc), and some airports that appear on the top 100 list also appear in some worst airport lists.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “The tunnels from Colma to SFO are mind-bogglingly loud, considering they had 30 years experience from the original tunnels.”

    Those 3 decades of perfecting will be instrumental to PB in achieving even greater levels of Brutalist celebration of noise , ugliness, sterility with CAHSR.

  28. Emma
    Apr 16th, 2013 at 13:35
    #28

    Something tells me that low bidding is inversely proportional to cost overruns. I predict that the costliest bidder will actually stay within its budget while the lowest bidder will overshoot it to a degree that will make CHSRA wonder if they shouldn’t have gone with a slightly more expensive solution. Can you say Dragados-Samsung-Pulice?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t think I have enough data on bids to investigate this. It’s certainly possible.

    That said, the problem leading to cost overrun isn’t so much low bids as policies that require or highly encourage agencies to pick the lowest bid. This creates the incentive to lowball costs; since the contractors that are likeliest to do that are likeliest to be the least competent and the least scrupulous (otherwise they could’ve gotten work without lowballing), this leads to higher costs at the end.

    If, as in New York, lowest-bid rules cause the agencies to write overexacting specs, then there’s another perverse incentive at work: competent, scrupulous contractors may not be interested in jumping through hoops to get public-sector work if they can get private-sector work, and then the only bidders on public works are the worst ones. For some evidence that this is the case, the contracts for Second Avenue Subway that were bid on at the worst point in the recession, when there was not much private-sector work, came in 50% below budget. The costs of construction are dominated by labor rather than materials, and nominal wages are extremely hard to cut, especially in a unionized environment, so it couldn’t just be falling commodity prices; New York really did happen to get better contractors for a few months.

    duende78 Reply:

    Generally, contractors know that there is a contingency of a certain amount available, and their goal is to acquire as much as possible of that contingency. Doesn’t matter if it were the low or the high bidder, contractors consider that known contingency % to be on the table for them to try and acquire. I know this from experience. This will be especially true of a design-build package where the chosen team may be tempted to “design-in” elements that lead to additional work. I think it still makes sense to go with the cheaper team since all teams would be tempted to do the same thing in this regard, so at least the baseline cost is lower to start from.

    On another note, everyone knows that Parsons Transportation isn’t PBQD, right? Seems like a lot of posters are confused about that point.

  29. Reality Check
    Apr 17th, 2013 at 14:42
    #29

    HIGH-SPEED RAIL BIDDER FIGHTS BACK AT CRITICS

    Building magnate blames reputation for cost add-ons on clients and the media

    Los Angeles construction magnate Ron Tutor, whose company wants to partner in building the first segment of California’s high-speed rail system, returned fire on Tuesday at critics who say he has a history of cost overruns and expensive lawsuits.

    […]

    “You’re picking up on the 20-year-old (baloney) that we get jobs and we get a lot of change orders, right?” he asked. “And you still believe that (baloney)? I am getting tired of refuting it. It’s just such drivel.”

    […]

    Tutor, 72, is expected to come under increasing scrutiny from the media as the high-speed rail authority moves toward inking a contract for the first segment in the coming weeks. As the lowest bidder, his partnership has an advantage over the other four partnerships.

    Tutor says he expects to get the contract for the first segment — a 28-mile stretch from Madera to Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley — and then compete for the other segments of the $68 billion project.

    The Watchdog asked whether Tutor could guarantee to hold down costs, and he responded, “What do you think a contract is? I am not on a cost-plus. Our contract is a guarantee. I swear to God.”

    […]

    joe Reply:

    He’s under the microscope. I’m going to enjoy his argumentative approach honed by bullying county officials over cost overruns.

    CAHSRA will spend whatever it takes to monitor the project and document costs and cost overruns.

    Eric M Reply:

    Being under the microscope is definitely a good thing. It will bring up questions if cost overruns/change orders arise and possibly keep them in check.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Builder contends low bid for high-speed rail in Valley realistic

    […]

    Change orders — and the corresponding cost increases — result from owners requesting upgrades that weren’t included in the contract; mistakes in the engineering drawings that push completion past the deadline; or unforeseen conditions that differ from what was outlined in the project specifications.

    “Not to trash our customers’ engineers, but many of them make a myriad of mistakes on the drawings they put out to bid,” Tutor said.

    The high-speed rail project, however, is being developed as a “design-build” program, in which the contractor is responsible for both designing and building the project. Because the contractor is also the architect and engineer, the builder essentially has no one to blame but his or her own team for costly design mistakes.

    “Design-build dramatically diminishes the risk to the owner,” Tutor said. “The truth is, if our engineers screw up, we’re going to pay for it. … No engineer makes perfect drawings, so we have to make an analysis on what is the risk for mistakes.”

    Susan Hines, a spokeswoman for the Design-Build Institute of America in Washington, D.C., confirmed that cost overruns tend to be far less with design-build projects.

    “The whole purpose of using design-build, and having one single responsibility for the contract, is to avoid change orders, which is one of the major factors that lead to cost overruns,” she said. “It’s usually the changes by owners that add to the cost.”

    On average, Hines said, design-build projects are completed 30% faster and cost about 6% less than comparable projects under a conventional design-bid-build process.

    […]

  30. Useless
    Apr 19th, 2013 at 08:07
    #30

    California high-speed rail bidding rules were changed
    The changes made it possible for Sylmar-based Tutor Perini to be ranked as the top candidate despite having received the lowest technical rating among bidders.

    State high-speed rail officials acknowledged Thursday that they changed their rules for selecting a builder for the bullet train’s first phase in the Central Valley, a shift that subsequently made it possible for a consortium led by Sylmar-based Tutor Perini to be ranked as the top candidate despite receiving the lowest technical rating.

    The California High-Speed Rail Authority announced last week that the Tutor Perini-Zachry-Parsons joint venture was the top-rated contender among five bidders seeking to build the initial 29 miles of track between Madera and Fresno.

    While it offered the lowest price at $985.1 million, the Tutor Perini team’s technical score ranked last. Ferrovial and Acciona, two Spanish firms with significant high-speed rail experience, had the highest technical mark but bid almost $1.4 billion. The rail agency board is expected to select a contractor in the coming months after additional negotiations.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-high-speed-bidding-20130419,0,188616.story

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