A coalition of minority-owned firms has accused the California High-Speed Rail Authority of systematically excluding them from bidding for work on the $43 billion project.
A federal civil-rights complaint filed Wednesday by the Associated Professionals and Contractors asks the U.S. Department of Transportation to withhold federal money for the rail project until it investigates the state agency's contracting practices.
Businesses operated by minority owners "are largely being shut out of contracting opportunities," states the complaint filed by attorney Oren Sellstrom of the Lawyers's Committee for Civil Rights, representing the business coalition.
Of 134 prime and subcontractors in the 10 largest management and design contracts awarded so far for the rail project, Sellstrom said, only about a dozen are minority-owned.
"Federal intervention is necessary to stop this inequity and to ensure that [the authority] does not continue to funnel billions of dollars ... into an exclusionary contracting system," Sellstrom said.
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