California unveils bids for high-speed rail construction

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California officials this week unveiled bids for construction of a controversial high-speed railway that is being partially financed by the federal government. 

The California High-Speed Rail Authority said California Rail Builders has offered to build a 22-mile segment of the high-speed railway for $347 million, which is less than the agency's previous estimate of $400-$500 million. 

Republicans in California and Washington have questioned the viability of the Golden State's high-speed rail proposal, but officials with the agency overseeing construction of the railway said the private sector bids are proof of the line's viability. 

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“We continue to attract world leading design and construction firms who want to be a part of high-speed rail in California,” California High-Speed Rail Authority Authority CEO Jeff Morales said in a statement. 

“People are already and will continue to see major construction projects underway on over 100 miles of infrastructure in the Central Valley as we move this program forward,” Morales continued. 

The proposed California line, which would link San Francisco, Los Angeles and other major California cities, was part of an ambitious proposal from President Obama to build a nationwide network of trains that would rival popular European railways. 

The California high-speed rail project has received more than $3 billion in federal dollars, but it has been beset with delays and funding problems. 

The state's high-speed rail authority said this week that California Rail Builders, who it said is comprised of a company called Ferrovial Agroman US Corp., was selected from five proposals that were submitted in a competitive bidding process. 

The agency said the company has been involved in more than 65 high-speed rail projects worldwide and won eight projects totaling $8 billion in the U.S. in recent years. 

President Obama spoke frequently in his first term about developing the nation's high-speed rail network, which the California route identified as a potential cornerstone.

Obama included $8 billion in his 2009 economic stimulus package to jump-start the high-speed rail program in the U.S., but his stimulus offer was rebuffed by Republican governors in states including Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, who rejected the money. 

Most of the money was later redirected to California, pinning hopes for a federally funded rail line squarely on the Golden State's shoulders.