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High-Speed Rail Chief Steps Down



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As the chief executive officer of California’s High-Speed Rail Authority, Jeff Morales presided over a mixed bag of results. Today (April 21), he announced his resignation from the position, simply citing a need for new leadership.

In a press release, Morales stated that he is “very proud of the progress we have made in advancing the nation’s first high-speed rail system, against the odds and in spite of all the obstacles.” The statement was positive in tone and boasted of progress in both construction and job creation.

However, the obstacles to which he refers were numerous and his time with the Authority was tumultuous. The project has consistently run over budget throughout its short life, acquiring land for construction has been difficult and contentious and many allege that the technology is already outdated.

The HSR Authority hired Morales in mid-2012 after a career spent largely in the private transportation consulting sector, but also as the former head of Caltrans. Undoubtedly, this project was the largest challenge he had faced thus far. Reviews of his leadership in the role have been positive though, with Gov. Jerry Brown claiming that Morales “was instrumental at a crucial point in time,” and Dan Richard, the HSR Authority chairman, explaining that he “moved the high-speed rail project from the planning phase into construction, laying the groundwork for commercial operation.”

The Authority acknowledges that, among a long list of achievements under Morales’ watch, the group has:

  • “Injected upwards of $4 billion into California’s economy.
  • Supported thousands of jobs in areas that have suffered chronic unemployment and put almost a thousand tradesmen and women to work.
  • Engaged well over 300 California small and disadvantaged businesses.
  • Managed three successful procurement bids totaling more than $3 billion in contracts for 119 miles of construction, with each bid coming in hundreds of millions of dollars below engineers’ estimates.”

As the project moves forward, Morales will officially resign on June 2, but will continue to function as an adviser and help with recruitment during the transition to new leadership. According to Morales’ statement, it may only be a matter of weeks before we have more clarity on the “fresh horse to run the next leg.”

Have thoughts about Morales’ decision to step down or who should replace him? Let us know in the comments!

Contact Drew Phelps

Phone: 559-440-8321 / e-mail

This story was not subject to the approval of Granville Homes.

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