The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a flurry of uncertainty in the California construction industry. Questions have arisen as to whether a project is considered essential, as well as whether a full workforce can be safely maintained.
Amid this crisis, The California High-Speed Rail Authority has continued construction, creating more than 4,000 construction jobs over 119 miles of the high-speed rail project. This has greatly contributed to the local economy as well as helping to support a more stable state economy. This is California’s, and the nation’s, first high-speed rail system. It is currently the biggest infrastructure project in the state – possibly in the country.
The Authority has worked closely with the local trade unions, the State Building and Construction Trades Council and the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board. With so many out of work, the carpenters, electricians, laborers, ironworkers, operating engineers, and many others on the project feel fortunate to have regular paychecks and steady jobs near home.
The majority of workers are from counties in the Central Valley. Of the 4,000 workers currently on the project, 62 live in Merced County, 223 live in Madera County, 1,969 live in Fresno County, 121 live in Kings County, 395 live in Tulare County, and 572 live in Kern County.
The Authority has operated under the mandate that jobs created by the high-speed rail project must benefit disadvantaged areas through the execution of a Community Benefits Agreement. The 119-mile construction site contains thousands of workers and hundreds of apprentices. According to the Targeted Worker Program included in the Community Benefits Agreement, 30% of all project work hours need to be performed by individuals from disadvantaged communities where annual household incomes range from $32,000 to $40,000.
This critically needed high-speed train will provide a clean, fast mode of mass transit, helping to alleviate the congestion on California’s highways, freeways, and airports. The completed project will contribute significantly to California’s economy, and serve the state’s growing population, while at the same time protecting the environment.