HSR Groundbreaking Delayed Again
Construction work has begun on the high speed rail project near Fresno, in the form of soil testing, final design, and land surveying. But the actual groundbreaking is going to be delayed for at least another couple months:
But with autumn arriving this weekend and no bulldozers in sight, rail officials for the first time have acknowledged it will be another “few months” before construction, which has already been delayed a year, begins.
The state still needs to buy more land and equipment, finish designs and hire workers, while a pair of lawsuits set to be decided in the coming months could even force more delays….
The California High-Speed Rail Authority says it has the needed permits and bought enough land to start building on part of the initial 29-mile section in the Central Valley, from Madera to Fresno. But the contractor working on the first $1 billion package wants to wait until it can proceed full-speed ahead on several miles of the route all at once.
“We could be out there this week if we wanted to just knock down one building,” said rail authority CEO Jeff Morales. But “that doesn’t make economic sense.”
Morales is also quoted as saying that the project is still on schedule to meet the September 2017 deadline for spending the federal stimulus funds that are helping pay for construction. So the delay may not jeopardize those funds, but it does mean it’ll be a closer shave than it might otherwise have been.
Mike Rosenberg speculates in the article that a cause of the delay might be the various lawsuits that are being heard this fall regarding the project. Those lawsuits are an attempt to stop construction either directly by winning in court or by running out the clock. Unable to prevail in public opinion or in the state legislature, they’re hoping that they can simply obstruct this project to death.
I still expect groundbreaking to occur in 2013, and when it happens, it’ll be a cause for celebration.