California high-speed rail project gets September 2017 deadline

Work on 130-mile segment could cost up to $3.5 million per day

May 15, 2012

Federal lawmakers declared that if the California High-Speed Rail Authority wants full federal funding for its project to construct a 130-mile HSR segment from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the project would have to be completed by September 2017. Failure to meet that deadline would result in the loss of at least some federal money.

If construction begins later this year as expected, that would mean daily expenditures of up to $3.5 million, the fastest known rate of construction in U.S. history. The project will cost a projected $6 billion in total.

Potential challenges to finishing the project in that timeframe include the need for up to 120 permits; acquisition of 1,100 parcels of land, which could lead to lawsuits from local agricultural interests; and the need to assemble and coordinate five teams of contractors along the 130-mile stretch from Fresno to Bakersfield.

CHSRA officials admit the project pace is extremely aggressive but point to other successful projects that have faced similar situations, including the Alameda Corridor freight rail line and the current construction of the new Bay Bridge in Oakland. Each of those projects reportedly spent $1.8 million per day.