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High-Speed Rail

High-Speed Rail: Buyer Beware?

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(FOX 11) Much was made of the announcement by California's High-Speed Rail Authority that the top-ranked bidder to build the first 29 miles of track came in under estimates.

The group, a joint venture by Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons, bid $985 million, about 100 million less than the next lowest bidder.

But some of the nation's top rail experts say they have concerns for two reasons: one, they say Tutor Perini has a history of cost creeps and two, the group got the lowest technical marks of the five bidders and should have been kicked out of the running.

Critics charge the rail authority deleted its own wording that specified only the top three technical teams would be considered.

"They issued an addendum to this process, and they deleted the part where they said only the top three on technical merit would be considered," says Morris Brown, the founder of the grassroots rail watchdog organization, Derail. "When they eliminated looking at technical merit first, they essentially discarded it as really being a factor."

Brown says: "Even with that low bid, we're not getting electrified rail, we're not getting rail cars and we're also still paying CalTrans a couple hundred million to move Highway 99."

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