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Builder blames past issues on governments changing specs
By Christopher Cadelago5:20 p.m.April 15, 2013

SACRAMENTO — The lowest-bidding partnership for the first segment of California’s high-speed rail line includes a firm with a history of cost overruns and costly lawsuits.

The California High Speed Rail Authority on Friday announced that the American joint venture of Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons was the “best apparent value” with a low bid of $985 million — below the $1.09 billion bid by the next-lowest bidder.

On construction projects in California, the lowest bidder has a strong advantage in the eventual selection process. Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the authority, declined to comment on bidders as the matter is finding its way to the authority’s board of directors.

“Five world class teams competed for this opportunity, and the process is ongoing,” Wilcox said.

The first segment of the estimated $68-billion system is proposed to run 28 miles from Madera to Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley.

According to an August report by the Center for Investigative Reporting, a media partner of U-T San Diego, 11 major projects in the San Francisco Bay Area completed by Tutor in the last dozen years cost local governments $765 million more than they expected, or 40 percent above the initial bids.

A company spokesman did not return a message seeking comment. Tutor said in the August report that attacks against him were unfounded and overruns were caused by contracting agencies changing the projects in midstream.

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