SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The major consultant on California’s high-speed rail project has hired an outside investigator to look into allegations that it discouraged employees from sharing bad news about the troubled effort to build a swift train link between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Brian Kelly, chief executive of the rail project, confirmed the investigation at a Tuesday board meeting of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The consulting firm in question is WSP, which has a seven-year agreement to help move the project from its design phase to operation.
The firm has denied allegations in a Times story that quoted several WSP employees as saying they were discouraged from sharing negative information.
Separately, a former WSP employee, Mark Styles, told the Times he was contacted by federal investigators with the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general, which is looking into the project. It wasn’t clear what they were investigating.
California voters approved nearly $10 billion in bonds to build a high-speed train connecting the north and south in 2008. Since then, the project has regularly missed deadlines and reported cost overruns. It’s now expected to cost $80 billion and take until at least 2033 to complete.
The state is in a legal battle with the Trump administration, which is trying to revoke a nearly $1 billion grant for the project.
Also on Tuesday, the rail authority board approved spending more than $400 million to help modernize Union Station in Los Angeles, one of the city’s major transportation hubs. Southern California lawmakers have called for greater investments in improving public transportation in the area.
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