- Publicly-traded, Sylmar, California-based general contractor Tutor Perini announced Monday that it was the low bidder on three infrastructure projects totaling $1 billion, in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and New York City. The company expects official awards for all three projects to be made within the next 60 days, with construction likely to begin soon thereafter.
- The largest of the three contracts is worth approximately $800 million and is for construction of the $1.9 billion, 14.5-mile Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) project in Minneapolis, which will be undertaken by the company's wholly-owned subsidiary Lunda Construction as part of a joint venture. In addition to new rail infrastructure, work on that project includes the installation of 44 bridges, two cut-and-cover tunnels and 15 new stations.
- For the second project, Frontier-Kemper Constructors, another subsidiary of Tutor Perini, will take on a $109 million tunneling project for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Finally, Tutor Perini will perform a $93 million overhaul of the Broadway Bridge, which spans the Harlem River in New York City.
Big public works projects like the SWLRT can sometimes encounter pushback from the local community or develop logistical challenges that end up delaying construction, even after contracts for the work have been executed. The SWLRT is dealing with two such hurdles – an environmental lawsuit and legal action from a short-line freight railroad company that already uses a portion of the planned SWLRT corridor.
Twin Cities & Western Railroad (TCWR) sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) asking the agency to deny a SWLRT request that the project be exempt from STB jurisdiction when it comes to right-of-way acquisitions. TCWR maintains that the Metropolitan Council, which will oversee the SWLRT extension, hasn't proven that the light rail's operations will not interfere with its $1.5 billion annual freight business. TCWR has also filed a lawsuit in federal court, according to the Southwest Journal, alleging that the project would violate federal interstate commerce laws. Meanwhile, an environmental group that lost an initial court bid to stop the project has promised to appeal the decision.
Tutor Perini has intimate knowledge of the kinds of holdups major rail projects can come up against, though. In June 2016, the California High-Speed Rail Authority issued Tutor Perini about $64 million in change orders after progress on the $77 billion bullet train was delayed due to land acquisition problems. Tutor Perini said it was supposed to start the first 29 miles of the project in 2013 but had to demobilize because of the stalled schedule.