Arcadis US Awarded $71.86m California High-speed Rail Construction Management Contract
The California High-Speed Rail Authority has awarded a $71.86 million contract for construction management of the Fresno to Bakersfield high-speed rail line to Arcadis US.
The Colorado-based branch of the Dutch design and consultancy firm beat four other bids for Construction Package 2-3, which covers a 65-mile stretch from American Avenue, south of Fresno to just north of the Tulare-Kern county line via King’s County.
As part of the contract, ARCADIS will, over a five-year period, provide engineering and consulting services for the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the as-yet unconfirmed contractor that will design and build the package.
Construction of this section is estimated to cost between $1.5bn and $2bn, with bids from contractors due in October. The stretch will be subject to environmental considerations before construction can commence.
California High-Speed Rail Authority selected the two-company team of Wong/Harris to oversee the first 23-mile package from Madera to Fresno. A consortium of Tutor Perini, Zachry and Parsons won the $985 design-build contract for this section, and construction works are already underway, having begun in July.
The start of heavy construction works has been delayed by the state’s slow acquisition of the necessary land needed in the Central Valley area for an initial 29-mile segment that will pass through Fresno. Jeff Morales, Chief Executive of the California High-Speed Rail Authority has revealed the authority has been forced to hire more staff devoted to acquiring property.
Users of California's high-speed rail system will be able to travel from Los Angeles and San Francisco in about two hours and 40 minutes. The $68 billion system is expected to be completed by 2029.
G7 launches global infrastructure investment for China’s BRI
The G7 Group has launched an infrastructure investment push aimed at countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The launch took place during the G7 summit in Cornwall. While no extra state funding for infrastructure schemes had been confirmed, the “Build Back Better World” (B3W) plan, part of the G7’s infrastructure investment, looked to attract private finance.
The summit’s communiqué described the plan as a “step change” in nations’ approach to infrastructure financing, while the White House said the B3W plan would be able to cover Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific.
What is China’s Belt and Road Initiative? (BRI)
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is China’s programme to build both physical and digital infrastructure to connect several countries from Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
It was adopted in 2013 by the Chinese government as a way of expanding the nation’s global influence. China’s motives for the plan include state sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity, and the protection of its political and social stability system. China is also using the plan to ensure continued economic and social development.
Why is the G7 Group competing with China?
While the reason for countering China’s BRI plan has not specifically been stated, official documents have suggested that it could be due to transparency, good governance, and “values”. However, in the past, the US has criticised the BRI projects, saying that they lack these qualities. Other opposition groups in recipient countries have also criticised the plan.
“Until now, we haven't offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards, and our way of doing business … [B3W] won't just be an alternative to the BRI, but we believe will beat the BRI by offering a higher-quality choice”, a senior administration official said in a news briefing.
However, a G7 spokesperson for the UK argued that there was more to the investment push than competing with China. He said: “This project stands on its own merits and is in line with the G7’s priorities on ensuring the world builds back better and greener from the pandemic”.
.Whether or not the G7’s investment initiative will be able to match China’s BRI is unclear, but a 2018 report from ICBC Standard Bank shows that after the first five years of the programme, some $330bn of transport and $266bn of energy projects were announced, underway or complete.