Report: CA Bullet Train Project Workers Told to ‘Shut Up’ About Its Troubles

People read signs near a constuction site off Avenue 12 in Madera, California just north of Fresno on the California High Speed-Railway on May 5, 2019. - For more than five years residents and businesses have been disrupted and relocated up and down California's central San Joaquin Valley from the …
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Workers at the lead consulting firm for California’s bullet train project are claiming they were not allowed to voice concerns regarding the expensive plan.

“I was told to shut up and not say anything,” said former WSP employee, Mark Styles, according to a Fox News article.

“I was told that I didn’t understand the political arena the project was in. I told them I am not going to shut up. This is my job,” he added.

A group of the company’s current and former senior officials said it threatened to punish or fire those who did not promote the company line, despite warnings regarding risks and money problems.

“If I was to give a talk at a construction conference, I would say they were not following generally accepted project management principles,” explained project controls coordinator Todd Bilstein.

He said the failures included estimating costs, scheduling construction, and managing change orders.

“Revealing bad news was discouraged. I just couldn’t continue to work there,” Bilstein noted, adding, “I don’t work that way. American professionals don’t work that way.”

However, California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly said the project was still going forward as of February 12, when the authority released its Draft 2020 Business Plan.

He continued:

The 2020 business plan reflects more than anything else the transformation to high-speed rail in California is well underway. I’m excited about 350 miles being in pre-construction in California in 2020. Full construction in the next 18 to 24 months. All of the environmental work being cleared from San Francisco all the way to Anaheim. The emergence of a new electric, high-speed train provider, a private sector provider, in California. We’re moving, I mean this is happening, and the 2020 business plan should really reflect the fact that this transformation is well underway.

Following the accusations made by former and current employees, Kelly said the agency “takes seriously any claim of wrongdoing by an employee or contractor.”

“We have procedures in place for any such claim to be raised and reviewed. We have an expectation that all employees act within the law and that our contractors meet the requirements of state and federal law,” he concluded.

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