High-Speed Rail Subcontractor Sues for $4.7M


     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A subcontractor hired to perform environmental work for California’s planned high-speed rail system says it was wrongfully ousted from the project and is owed more than $4.7 million.
     Ultrasystems Environmental Inc. sued the California High Speed Rail Authority and STV, the primary contractor for the high-speed rail project in Los Angeles Superior Court.
     Ultrasystems claims STV hired it in early 2007 as a subcontractor to consult on environmental impacts for part of the bullet train system connecting Los Angeles and Orange County.
     According to the lawsuit, the rail authority’s program management firm was unhappy with Ultrasystems’ environmental technical studies and decided to bring in another consulting firm, nonparty ICF-Jones & Stokes Associates, to “assist” Ultrasystems with its work.
     In late 2009, STV allegedly issued the plaintiff a stop-work order and effectively cut it from the project.
     The subcontractor says it was never formally replaced or substituted by ICF-Jones & Associates. Instead, STV kept the woman-owned business on board for “cosmetic purposes,” so it looked like it was satisfying a state program to involve small, disadvantaged businesses in the high-speed rail project, Ultrasystems claims.
     It says STV has failed to pay nearly $2 million under the terms of the parties’ agreement and was damaged to the tune of more than $2.7 million.
     California voters gave the green light to the country’s first bullet train system through Proposition 1A in the 2008 general election. A link between San Francisco and Los Angeles is slated for completion in 2029. The high-speed trains will travel up to 200 miles per hour between the two U.S. cities in less than three hours.
     The multibillion-dollar project will eventually take in Sacramento and San Diego, covering a distance of 800 miles, according to the rail authority. http://www.hsr.ca.gov/
     The plaintiff seeks more than $4.7 million in damages and is represented by Edward Ballard of Weule & Ballard of San Diego.
     California High-Speed Rail Authority spokeswoman Lisa Marie Alley told Courthouse News it does not comment on pending litigation.
     STV did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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