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Letters: Who should build California's bullet train?

April 23, 2013

Re "Bullet train bid rules altered," April 19

Thanks to The Times for letting us know that a troubled bid led by Sylmar-based Tutor Perini might win the contract to build the first phase of California's high-speed rail system against much more experienced contractors. A

nyone who has taken Spain's high-speed train knows how superb these machines are, and two companies with extensive high-speed rail experience in Spain (Ferrovial and Acciona) also submitted bids. But our High-Speed Rail Authority rewrites rules, plays with our safety and might entrust this project to a firm that has been troubled by lawsuits and bids that were way off interim and final costs.

If California undertakes this project, it should go for the best and most experienced engineering.

Lynne Shapiro

Marina Del Rey

We utterly reject the thesis made in this article that our procurement process has been anything but open, competitive, objective and in accordance with the law. The process for the design-build contract for the first segment of high-speed rail was developed and reviewed by multiple federal and state agencies.

The High-Speed Rail Authority was able to secure five technically sound bids from world-class teams and create price competition that will result in the best value for taxpayers, potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars. The decision to open all qualified bids was a thoughtful and transparent step to attempt to create the best outcome for the state.

Jeff Morales

Sacramento

The writer is chief executive of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

It is unbelievable that the bidding rules would be changed to give Tutor Perini the chance to bungle another job, as it did with the Red Line subway in the 1990s. Isn't the High-Speed Rail Authority aware of the shoddy work and the endless litigation with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority?

How can the hope of saving a few hundred million dollars justify hiring a contractor that could actually end up costing more than the better-qualified and more experienced bidders? This is the project whose cost estimates have more than doubled before any groundbreaking. I sense impending calamity for this terrible bullet train idea.

Tobi Dragert

Los Angeles

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