At long last, the state of California has begun construction on the state’s largest transportation project in history, the high speed rail which will eventually span most of the state and connect San Francisco with Lost Angeles and beyond. Ground was broken earlier this month on the first segment in Fresno, which will span approximately 29 miles.
After a two-year delay, the $68 billion project has begun, although the completed project won’t be expected for at least several years. The California High-Speed Rail Authority has faced numerous stumbling blocks including funding challenges, political challenges and even challenges from environmental groups. Even though they have overcome many of these hurdles just to get to the start of construction, it is quite likely that these legal challenges and many new ones will present themselves during the construction phase.
Among the construction law issues they have faced are concerns over regulations, the unorthodox bidding process and the state, federal and municipal regulations that some opponents say have been bent, if not outright broken, in order to bring this project to fruition. With so many entities involved, it could be a legal nightmare if the project starts to go off course in any significant way.
To put the cost of this extraordinary project into perspective, the state will need to spend approximately $3 to $4 million every day for the next three years in order to take full advantage of federal assistance grants. After that, California taxpayers are largely on the hook for the project. Supporters of the project hope that the two-year delay won’t lead to wasteful spending in order to make up for the lost time to complete the project. However, the massive project may become a boon for the rebounding California construction industry, and will undoubtedly provide jobs for thousands of skilled laborers for many years to come.
Source: LA Times, “After two-year delay, construction on California’s bullet train is set to start,” Ralph Vartabedian, Jan. 6, 2015