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Webuild, Lane, Kiewit nab $17B total in Texas high-speed rail contracts

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Dive Brief:

  • Under a $16 billion contract signed this week, Italian contractor Webuild and its U.S. subsidiary Lane Construction have been selected to build a high-speed railway between Dallas and Houston. The project with private developer Texas Central Railroad will connect the two cities in 90 minutes, including a stop at Brazos Valley near Texas A&M University. 
  • Based on Central Japan Railway’s Tokaido Shinkansen system, the railway will carry travelers at speeds of up to 200 mph, faster than any other rail service in the United States, according to Texas Central.
  • Construction will take five to six years and will begin as soon as Texas Central has finalized all pre-construction permits, according to the company’s website. Total costs for the project will be around $20 billion, which includes the construction of the lines, tracks, viaducts, berms, maintenance facilities, power substations and three passenger stations.

Dive Insight: 

Webuild and Lane will oversee the civil engineering work, which entails the design and construction of the 236 miles of railway, the viaducts, as well as the buildings and services for maintenance and other equipment, industrial buildings, train depots and facilities. A major part of the railway will be elevated in order to reduce the impact that the infrastructure will have on residents and landowners of the counties through which the railway will pass.

Last month, Texas Central tapped Kiewit and affiliate Mass. Electric to install the project’s core electrical systems. The $1.6 billion contract includes critical safety and systems elements like traction power, signaling and communications equipment.

Despite the selection of contractors, some local and state officials have fought against the project, and some landowners have questioned the private company’s ability to acquire rights to build on their property.

For instance, Waller County Judge Trey Duhon testified virtually before the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last month, saying that the current estimated costs of the project are much higher than previously projected, and Texas Central has only secured a small portion of private funding. He asked lawmakers to ensure the project is not funded with taxpayer dollars.

Webuild was created when Salini merged with Impregilo in 2014, followed by Lane and, more recently, Astaldi to create the Webuild Group. The Texas Central contract brings the value of construction orders in the Milan-based firm’s backlog from the United States to 35%. Other Webuild rail projects in the U.S. include the Central Subway tunnel in San Francisco and the LYNX Blue Line Extension in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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