An artist's rendering of a high-speed-rail station.

An artist's rendering of a high-speed-rail station. (California High-Speed Rail Authority / November 1, 2012)

Officials at the California bullet train agency have pushed back by months a key milestone in the upcoming construction, though they say the project is not falling behind and that they will be able to build 130 miles of track in the Central Valley by 2017.

Jeff Morales, chief executive officer of the project, acknowledged long-standing rumors in the construction industry that the deadline for submitting bids on the first segment would be pushed back from this week to Jan. 18, coming after an earlier revision that pushed the deadline back from September. It now appears that the agency will not issue a formal notice to proceed with construction until July.

Originally, the California High-Speed Rail Authority had said it would begin construction of the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco rail project this year. The timetable is critical, because federal funding deadlines require that the first segment be completed by September 30, 2017.

Construction industry experts say the authority is attempting to execute an extremely aggressive construction schedule, which will grow even more compressed if the starting point is delayed.

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