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By Tina Fisher Cunningham
Fisher Forde Media 

Hi-speed rail organization matures on delivery

The Forde Files No. 199


September 28, 2019

The California High Speed Rail Authority 2019 Sustainability Report reinforces the original mission of the massive rail project and reflects a commitment to more stringent management practices.

Much of the focus is on construction in the Central Valley.

“The future is starting to take shape as major structural elements of the high-speed rail system in the Central Valley can be seen from Highway 99 or from passenger trains running along the San Joaquin line,” Authority CEO Brian P. Kelly wrote in the report.

“The importance of making the first major investments in the Central Valley cannot be overstated. It’s a region that is often overlooked as other areas of the state reap the benefits from economic investment and development. High-speed rail investments have provided consistent stimulus to the Central Valley’s economy, generating an estimated 4,550 job-years of employment and about $750 million in economic output in fiscal year 2017-18, alone.”

The report acknowledges that the organizational structure needed adjustment to make the leap from planning to construction.

“When we started construction, we struggled with making the transition from strategic planning to project delivery,” the report says. “We were transparent about these challenges in the 2018 Business Plan and presented our strategies to create a mature organization, one with sufficient delivery capacity and capabilities.”

The re-assessment led to a better management plan, the report says.

“We are taking systematic steps to expedite the Authority’s transition to a more rigorous program management and delivery operation.”

The backbone of the first 171-mile high-speed rail “building block” in the Central Valley between Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield “is where we are already building true high-speed rail assets,” Kelly wrote. “We are a funding partner on the Caltrain electrification project along a 50-mile stretch in the Bay area, and we are partners with a private operator seeking to run electric, high-speed trains between Las Vegas and Victorville, 130 miles of which will be in California.”

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