California HSR identifies qualified contractorsFeb 2012
Paula Wallis, TunnelTalk
A mix of 14 national and international construction companies have qualified in five JVs to bid on the first phase of California's high-speed rail system in the rural central valley, half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Featuring a mix of domestic and international companies, Spanish firms are heavily represented with funding for infrastructure projects in their home market all but dried up as a result of severe public spending cuts (Table 1).
Table 1: Qualified Contractors for California HSR (Phase 1)
California Backbone Builders JV
California High-Speed Rail Partners JV
California High-Speed Ventures JV
Tutor Perini Corp.
The northern segment, beginning near the city of Madera and continuing south through the city of Fresno, will extend 21-29 miles depending on the final alignment selected through the environmental process.
Work in the mainly flat stretch includes 12 grade separations, two viaducts, one open trench tunnel and an elevated river crossing over the San Joaquin River. The contract is expected to be worth between $1.5 to $2 billion.
Qualified companies may have a long wait as significant obstacles need to be resolved before the bid process can begin. These include acquiring the necessary rights of way through Fresno and gaining environmental approval.
But the biggest hurdle will be wrestling nearly $3 billion in bond funds approved by voters in 2008 from the State Legislature. Legislators are reluctant to approve the funds in the wake of strong criticism of the California High Speed Rail Authority's new business plan that places the cost of building the 800-mile long system close to $100 billion, three times the original estimate.
Where they are working
All of the companies qualified have been or are currently active in the USA. The following is a list of international tunneling or rail contracts carried out by the 14 companies on the shortlist.
• US$1.4 billion Northern Link highway tunnel project in Brisbane, Australia
• London Crossrail western running tunnels contract C300 from Royal Oak to Farringdon in JV with BAM Nuttall and Kier Construction.
• The estimated £375 million Farringdon Station, also for Crossrail.
• The $302 million 86th Street Station on the Second Avenue Subway line in New York City, in JV with Traylor Brothers.
• The PPP $2.1 billion Elizabeth River immersed tube crossing in Virginia, in partnership with Kiewit.
• The $136 million, 5.4 mile first phase of the 16.3 mile extension of BART trains into California's Silicon Valley, in JV with Shimmick.
• The 8.5 mile, Phase 1 of the at-grade Exposition Metro Light Rail Line in Los Angeles, California in JV with FCI and Parsons Transportation Group.
• The permanent $3.2 billion the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York City, which includes about 3,000m of pedestrian tunnels.
California high speed rail proposed alignment
• The Canadian contractor is active in the civil infrastructure, heavy industrial, and buildings markets in the USA and Canada with an annual volume of more than $5 billion.
• The $180.2 million Indianapolis Deep Rock Tunnel Connector CSO contract, in JV with Shea.
• The $447.2 million 72nd Street Station contract on the Second Avenue Subway in New York, in JV with Schiavone and Shea.
• The 5.4 mile Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension, with JV partners Aeon and McNally Construction.
• The $269 million Willamette River East Side SCO in Portland, Oregon, with JV partner Bilfinger Berger.
• The Devil's Slide Highway Tunnel in Northern California.
• $730 million Queens bored tunnels for the East Side Access in New York City, in JV with Traylor Brothers and Frontier Kemper.
• Comsa EMTE is a major player in Spain's infrastructures and technology sector and operates in several countries around the world. It has a turnover of more than €2 billion and over 9,500 employees.
• The $1.35 billion design-build contract for the Alaskan Way tunnel in Seattle, in JV with Tutor Perini.
• The $734 million contract for the large caverns and the $428 million TBM running tunnels contract for the East Side Access project to bring the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) services into Grand Central Terminal, in JV with Judlau.
• London Crossrail Contract C305 for the eastern running tunnels: Limmo Peninsula to Farringdon, Limmo Peninsula to Victoria Dock, and Stepney Green to Pudding Mill Lane, in JV with Sisk.
Vision of a high speed rail station
• Has a construction volume of more than $1 billion and is active in bridge, highway and rail building in the USA and Canada.
• The $136 million, 5.4 mile first phase of the 16.3 mile extension of BART trains into California's Silicon Valley, in joint venture with Skanska.
• The $1.35 billion design-build contract for the Alaskan Way tunnel in Seattle, in JV with Dragados.
• $226.6 million 3.5 mile New Irvington Water Tunnel in Sunol, California, for the San Francisco Public Utility Commission, in JV with Southland.
• Based in San Antonio, Texas, Zachry is active in heavy civil construction projects across the state.
• Construction Management on the 5.5 mile South Cobb Sewer Tunnel in Cobb County, Georgia, in JV with Jacobs Associates.
The shortlisted firms will be invited to submit proposals in response to a request for proposals (RFP) that California High Speed Rail Authority had expected to release in Spring 2012. At the end of the process the selected design-build firm will be responsible for all work required to design and construct the first portion of the initial construction segment in the Central Valley.
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