5 workers injured on CA bullet train site, officials investigating
- Five construction workers on the $64 billion California high-speed rail project were injured on the job Saturday, according to ABC 30. This is the first significant accident for the rail since it started construction.
- A tower made of rebar collapsed hitting another tower, which fell on the workers at the site just north of Fresno, CA, according to The Fresno Bee. Two of the five workers' injuries were serious enough to require medical attention at a nearby hospital.
- The California Highway Patrol is leading the investigation into the cause of the accident, but Cal-OSHA is looking into the cause of the injuries and has six months to issue a citation. A California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) representative said the agency will also conduct its own accident investigation.
Since its inception, the Los Angeles-San Francisco bullet train has been plagued by a number of challenges. Chief among them have been significant delays and alleged cost overruns, brought into stark relief by a series of Los Angeles Times investigative pieces in 2015.
One of the greatest issues entailed how the rail would handle the formidable task of tunneling 36 miles through the San Gabriel and Tehachapi Mountains north of Los Angeles. MIT civil engineer Herbert Einstein told The Times that he didn't think the feat was possible and, in a best-case scenario, tunneling crews would only be able to bust through up to 20 feet a day — a significant departure from the average 100 to 200 feet per day in viable rock. The project team, however, was able to be postpone that portion of the rail project when the inaugural route was changed to originate in Northern California instead of Southern California.
A recent report from The Times uncovered yet another potential roadblock along a tunnel phase that would connect San Jose to Merced, CA. Experts told The Times that the $5.5 billion allotted for a 54-mile segment along that line could be used up entirely — or cost more — by having to tunnel through 13.5 miles of the seismically active area.
Currently, construction on that stretch is on pace for a $1.7-billion overrun, not including the tunnel, and is years behind schedule. The initial bond measure approved for the line had set completion for 2020, though the date for the incomplete system has now been pushed back to 2025.
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