CEO Report – October 2020

Brian P. KellyI’d like to take this opportunity to update the Board on several programmatic and operational items.

2020 Business Plan Update

See the PowerPoint presentation delivered by the CEO here.

We anticipate the 2020 Business Plan will come before the Board for adoption in our December meeting. This puts us on schedule to deliver the report to the legislature by the deadline of December 15, 2020.

Before the December meeting, we plan to:

  • Complete review and execute of a Memorandum of Understanding with CalSTA and San Joaquin JPA for rail operations between Merced and Bakersfield;
  • Complete independent peer review of ridership forecasts prepared by Early Train Operator for the Side-by-Side Analysis; and
  • Finalize the cost, schedule and risk assessment for Central Valley construction (119 miles).

The updated plan will:

  • Define COVID-19 program impacts and where we stand.
  • Account for risk-assessed costs, schedule, scope and revenues for current work.
  • Plan for “closing the books” on the 119-mile Central Valley construction and track and systems installation and clearing environmental documents statewide, including close-out costs and schedule estimates.
  • Detail the strategy for moving beyond the Initial Construction Segment (ICS) to early operable options and statewide advancement of the program.
  • Demonstrate important lessons learned from early program experience to be applied to future work.
  • Focus on risk and risk management—as well as establishing a Risk Committee.
  • Detail methodical, incremental, disciplined program advancement.
  • Discuss the re-establishment of a functional—even healthy—federal partnership.
  • Address myriad issues raised by the legislature, peer review group, and others on ridership estimates, MOU development, and other issues.
  • Describing where the project fits in the statewide transportation/climate change strategy – and more.

Personnel Update

I’m pleased to inform the Board that between meetings we’ve filled in two key positions with the Authority.

We’ve hired our newest Southern California Regional Director: LaDonna DiCamillo. She brings decades of experience to the Authority, having worked in freight railway efforts for much of her career. I met her as she was doing Governmental Affairs work with BNSF. She will be a tremendous asset and will greatly benefit our work and communication with our freight and Southern California stakeholders and the issues we have to work through. I’m very pleased she’s here. She’ll be great asset.

The second position for which we’ve hired is our Director of Risk Management and Project Control position. We’ve filled with one of our own, Jamey Matalka. He most recently was working with CFO Brian Annis as our Assistant CFO. He will lead our effort to reform and improve our risk services. Jamey will talk to the board directly next month on what this enterprise risk management effort will look like. I am looking forward to working with both these folks.

Another personnel item: We are in the process of filling the Central Valley Regional Director position. We have a stack of resumes we’re going through and we’re preparing to interview candidates. We’re working with the Governor’s Office on this, as this is an appointed position. We’re looking through options, narrowing down the interview pool, and we meet next week to discuss more. We’ll report to the Board our progress.

That’s it for updates on the organizational front.

Next Steps on the Central Valley Wye

As a follow up from last meeting, per the request from the Board, the team in the Central Valley is moving forward with memorandums of understanding (MOU) with communities impacted by the Central Valley Wye and the adoption of the related environmental document.

The communities involved are the city and county of Madera, and the cities of Chowchilla and Fairmead. We’ve extended tolling agreements, of no more than several weeks, on a short term basis, with the county, with the Friends of Fairmead, and on a longer term basis with the City of Chowchilla while we continue to work through issues to finalize those MOUs. I’m hopeful to have more to report back, resolutions to these issues, come next month’s Board meeting. They’re progressing.

City of Wasco

And lastly, as a follow up to the last meeting, we had heard twice from Mayor Cortez of the City of Wasco and his environmental justice concerns. We had exchanged letters, but I drove to Wasco last week to meet directly with the mayor and the city manager. We walked through some of the environmental justice issues as raised together.

Our Title VI Coordinator within the Authority is the part of the organization that takes up these complaints and issues. We’re assessing the issues raised by the city. We’ll work through those issues. I told the mayor that our Title VI Coordinator and legal staff will work directly with the city manager’s office on these issues. They’ve been in contact this week. We’re working through these issues. There’s no doubt we need to have an improved working relationship, both so any impacts we’re having in the city are addressed, and importantly for us, that we have certainty on how the project will move forward. I think the mayor agreed with me that it’s in all our interests to ensure that project is completed in that area as quickly and efficiently as possible.

I wanted to report we had that meeting. We continue to work on the issues at the staff level. And I will update the Board accordingly as we go forward. That concludes my report.

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