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When Mark Styles was hired in October 2018 to help oversee Central Valley scheduling for the California bullet train, he soon learned he had walked into a mess.
Over the previous half decade the project had repeatedly fallen behind schedule, and the cost by 2018 had jumped from $64 billion to $77 billion in two years.
A core problem was the project’s operating culture, in which managers for WSP, the bullet train’s lead consultant, threatened to punish or terminate employees if they failed to toe the company line, Styles said.
“I was told to shut up and not say anything,” said Styles, a career construction manager who was hired as WSP’s senior supervisory scheduler in the project’s Fresno office. “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.”