High-speed rail leaders say management structure has flaws

A leader of California's high-speed rail project defended the decision to begin building tracks in the Central Valley without all approvals in hand but agreed with state auditors that the project overly relies on contractors and isn't keeping thorough records.

Vice chairman of the board overseeing the project Tom Richards told lawmakers, "We haven’t appropriately recorded in documentation why we've done things. It's inexcusable and frankly I'm embarrassed about it."

Richards was answering questions from lawmakers about a scathing state audit released in middle of this month that found poor contract management and flawed decision making has driven cost overruns and delays. Lawmakers from both parties have become increasingly skeptical the project will ever be fully completed.

Voters in 2008 approved bond money to help build a train that can shuttle passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in less than three hours. It's nearly doubled in cost since, to a predicted $77 billion, and is 15 years from completion.

Dawn Kamber