Some interesting news from the California High-Speed Rail Authority on Friday; the agency released the results of the bidding competition to design and build the first 28-mile segment of bullet train tracks between Fresno and Madera. The low bid of $985 million came in below agency expectations, which is good news. This is the first of five construction contracts to be awarded to complete the 130-mile Bakersfield-to-Merced section of the project.
The Sacramento Bee has a good story about the bidding process. The $985 million does not include real estate acquisitions that still must take place or a separate project to shift Highway 99 slightly to the east in the Fresno area in order to accommodate high-speed rail tracks but the bid does include a tunnel and several significant bridges. Excerpt:
The Merced-Bakersfield line is proposed to be the backbone of a 520-mile, $68 billion passenger rail system linking San Francisco and Los Angeles with electric trains capable of traveling at up to 220 mph. Trains are not expected to carry passengers until 2022 at the earliest, when the authority hopes to operate between Los Angeles and Merced, where passengers would connect on existing Amtrak or other commuter train lines to the Bay Area.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s Board of Directors still must approve the contract for the first 28-mile segment that went out to bid. That is expected to happen “within weeks,” said an agency spokesman, with the Authority hoping to begin construction later in the year.