California bullet train officials say they were told to suppress bad news and ‘shut up’

California
Support piers stand as part of the Cedar Viaduct section of the California high-speed rail project, south of downtown Fresno, on April 16, 2019. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Support piers stand as part of the Cedar Viaduct section of the California high-speed rail project, south of downtown Fresno, on April 16, 2019. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

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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.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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