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Tearing down a flawed bridge shows the High-Speed Rail Authority's safety checks are working

Tearing down a flawed bridge shows the High-Speed Rail Authority's safety checks are working
The massive abutments on a bullet train overcrossing in Madera County showed "signs of distress" and were ordered torn down last year by the state rail authority. (California High Speed Rail Authority)

To the editor: An essential element of the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s project management program is to ensure our structures are built to specifications that assure safety. While a recent Los Angeles Times article raised questions about the rigor of our project oversight, the inescapable fact is that in the case cited in the article, the authority’s quality assurance program worked as it was intended.

The defective structure was discovered and the work was rejected far before it could be placed into service.

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We are committed to ensuring the design and construction of our civil infrastructure is delivered in a manner that meets today’s safety standards. We do this in partnership with the contractor, inspectors, construction management teams and authority staff. All structures must be built to specifications based on best-practice engineering standards. One structure type is not inherently safer than another, and mechanically stabilized embankments — built to specifications — have been widely used in California for decades without compromising the public’s safety.

Our quality assurance process worked. We will continue to ensure our contractors’ work meets today’s engineering specifications, and we will transparently report on our construction matters in our monthly construction updates to our Board of Directors and its Finance and Audit Committee.

Scott Jarvis, Sacramento

The writer is chief engineer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

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