MODESTO (CBS13) – High-speed rail could be the ticket to pick up the pace of economic recovery in California.
Tuesday, dozens turned out for a meeting in Modesto to learn where they fit in the large project that could run right through town.
Kahri Boykin is co-owner of Boykin and Boykin Construction. He’s hopeful his small Central Valley business will get a piece of the construction pie.
“I would like a contract from the high speed rail,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to be able to provide employment opportunities for residents.”
Hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts will be up for grabs when high-speed rail breaks ground.
Thirty percent of the subcontractors hired must be small businesses or disadvantaged businesses.
“It has to be, because you can’t give it to one company and you can’t do it yourself,” said Jeff Gergal with Dragados USA.
Five large firms are in the running to win the project, including Dragados USA. All are required to hold outreach programs like Tuesday’s to show small subcontractors where they fit in to the massive project. There are opportunities in every thing from demolition, grading and paving to food services.
The state is expected to pick a firm in January. Having a list of qualified subcontractors will hopefully speed up the next step.
Construction of the initial segment linking Merced to the San Fernando Valley is expected to begin next year and create 20,000 jobs annually.
The entire project is expected to create thousands more.
“Small businesses look at a project like this and say, ‘It’s too complex, it’s an electrified rail system, there’s a $70 billion job, I can’t do any of that work.’ The reality is they can,” said John James with Dragados.