Civil rights advocates and a business coalition Wednesday demanded that the federal government investigate whether the California high-speed rail project has systematically excluded minority-owned companies from bullet train contracts.
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco and the Associated Professionals and Contractors, an alliance of minority businesses, lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation, alleging that the California High-Speed Rail Authority has violated the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
They contend that the project's effort to involve minority companies has been poor and that only about 12 minority-owned firms out of 134 prime contractors and subcontractors have shared in the authority's 10 largest contracts so far. The complaint alleges that many of the minority businesses were hired for small amounts, such as $100,000 for consulting work related to a $75-million contract.
The authority plans to build a 500-mile system, with trains running up to 220 mph between Anaheim and San Francisco. Extensions to Sacramento and San Diego would be built later. So far, about $3 billion in federal funds have been approved for the project.