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Firm Tapped for US High-Speed Rail Build

Thursday, January 14, 2016

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The California High-Speed Rail Authority has identified the likely contract winner for the next construction phase of the first high-speed rail (HSR) system in the United States.

California Rail Builders, a consortium headed by the U.S. arm of Spanish firm Ferrovial, was named the “Apparent Best Value Proposer” out of five proposals for the Construction Package 4 design-build services contract, the Authority announced in a statement.

California High-Speed Rail Authority
Images: California High-Speed Rail Authority

California Rail Builders was tapped as the “Apparent Best Value Proposer” for the next construction phase of the first high-speed rail (HSR) system in the United States.

Based out of Los Angeles, California Rail Builders bid approximately $348 million on a project the Authority estimated to cost between $400 million and $500 million.

The company describes itself as a “special-purpose entity” of Ferrovial Agroman US Corp., located in Austin, TX, which brings together the HSR construction expertise of Ferrovial Agroman and HSR design experts Euroestudios, both in Madrid, as well as Othon Inc., Consulting Engineers of Houston.

The group has designed and constructed more than 65 high-speed rail projects worldwide. In the past eight years, Ferrovial has been awarded seven major design-build contracts in North America totaling $8 billion, including segments of North Tarrant Express in Texas and berths in the Backland Automated Terminal in California.

America’s First HSR System

In 1996, the California Legislature formed the California High-Speed Rail Authority and tasked the group with preparing a plan and design for the construction of a high-speed rail (HSR) system to connect the state’s major metropolitan areas.

Today, the agency is responsible for planning, designing, building and operating the first HSR system in the U.S.

The $68 billion HSR line is intended to connect the “mega-regions” of the state, contribute to economic development and a cleaner environment, create jobs, and preserve agricultural and protected lands, according to the Authority.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

The $68 billion HSR line is intended to run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours at speeds capable of more than 200 mph before expanding to a coverage area of 800 miles.

By 2029, the system should run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours at speeds capable of more than 200 miles per hour. Eventually the line will extend to Sacramento and San Diego, the Authority says, totaling 800 miles with up to 24 stations.

Additionally, the agency is working with regional partners to implement a statewide rail modernization plan that will invest billions of dollars in local and regional rail lines to meet the state’s current and future transportation needs.

Construction Package 4

Because of the total size of the project, and the differing geographical, environmental and economic issues of each region, the project has been broken into 10 separate sections, the Authority says.

California Rail Builders will be responsible for the design-build services in Construction Package 4 (CP4), a 22-mile area ranging through the Central Valley that stretches from one mile north of the Tulare/Kern County line to Poplar Avenue north of Bakersfield.

The major work elements include construction of at-grade, retained fill and aerial sections of the alignment, relocation of 4 miles of existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) tracks, construction of waterway and wildlife crossings and roadway reconstructions, relocations and closures.

This phase of construction received state and federal environmental clearances in 2014.

Section by Section

CP4 is the third contract issued for they project by the Authority since 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The $6 billion available for construction in this area comes from a combination of federal stimulus and transportation funds and bond funds from a high-speed rail bond measure approved by California voters in 2008, the Fresno Bee wrote.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

Construction in the 29-mile segment is about two years behind schedule, the Times reports; the bridge over the Fresno River, which broke ground in June, is the only major structure in progress.

In 2013 the first contract, valued at about $1 billion, was awarded to the Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons joint venture for about 29 miles of the rail route at the southern edge of Fresno. This team also submitted a proposal for CP4.

About a year ago, the second contract, valued around $1.3 billion, was granted to Dragados/Flatiron Joint Venture for a 65-mile stretch running to just north of the Tulare-Kern county line. The group also submitted a bid for CP4.

“We continue to attract world leading design and construction firms who want to be a part of high-speed rail in California,” Authority CEO Jeff Morales said in the agency’s statement.

“People are already and will continue to see major construction projects underway on over 100 miles of infrastructure in the Central Valley as we move this program forward.”

According to the Times, the first of the construction in the 29-mile stretch is about two years behind schedule, and a bridge over the Fresno River is the only major structure in progress. The authority intends to make up any delays by increasing the pace on future work, it added.

These first three construction segments were expected to wrap up by 2017, the Times wrote, but now some work is expected to be complete in 2018 or later.

About the Proposal Process

In November 2014, the Authority issued a Request for Qualifications for potential design-build teams interested in the contract. Five teams were deemed qualified and began competing for the contract.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

“People are already and will continue to see major construction projects underway on over 100 miles of infrastructure in the Central Valley as we move this program forward,” said Authority CEO Jeff Morales.

On Nov. 25, 2015, five teams submitted proposals, which were then reviewed by an evaluation panel of Authority staff and a representative from the City of Wasco

The proposals were evaluated and ranked based on 30 percent for technical merit and 70 percent price. Factors such as an understanding of the project, schedule capacity, project approach and safety were part of the technical scoring.

Competing teams included:

  • Salini Impregilo/Security Paving Joint Venture (Salini Impregilo and Security Paving Company), with a bid of $377,142,737;
  • Dragados/Flatiron Joint Venture (Dragados USA and Flatiron West), with a bid of $461,954,000;
  • Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons a Joint Venture (Tutor Perini Corporation, Zachry Construction Corporation and Parsons Transportation Group), with a bid of 581,877,000; and
  • Central Valley Connection Builders (FCC Construccion and Corsan-Corviam Construccion)—this bid was disqualified from consideration for not meeting submission requirements, the Authority reported.

The Authority was on track to finalize the procurement process with a contract term sheet outlining the material provisions of the current contract, which was scheduled to be presented to the Board of Directors at a Tuesday (Jan. 12) Board meeting in Sacramento.

At that meeting, Authority staff expected to seek approval to conduct limited negotiations and enter into a contract with the Apparent Best Value Proposer.

This contract contains the Authority’s 30 percent Small Business participation goals and assents to the Community Benefits Agreement, which is designed to target disadvantaged workers and provide them with job and training opportunities, the Authority said.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bridges; Contract awards; Contracts; Design build; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Government contracts; Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (1/14/2016, 9:18 AM)

Two years into the first contract they were two years behind schedule.... Perhaps "understanding the project" and "capability of actually building the project" should be more than 30% of the scoring.

Comment from peter gibson, (1/15/2016, 7:22 PM)

Another bridge to no where,and dumb idea for CA.

Comment from John Fauth, (1/18/2016, 8:24 AM)

Details such as cost and duration are merely "suggestions" for highly political, publicly funded projects.

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