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JeffMorales.jpgThe California High-Speed Rail Authority voted this morning to hire as executive director a former Caltrans chief who now works for Parsons Brinkerhoff, a major contractor on the rail project.

Pending contract negotiations, Jeff Morales will replace Roelof van Ark, who resigned from the troubled agency earlier this year. The rail authority is seeking legislative approval in coming weeks to start construction of the $68 billion project.

The board is expected to finalize a contract with Morales after negotiating with him on its terms.

Morales was appointed director of Caltrans by Gov. Gray Davis and resigned in 2004. Parsons Brinkerhoff has a $199 million, seven-year contract to manage the rail project for the state authority.

In a brief meeting this morning at which the decision was announced, Dan Richard, chairman of the rail board, said Morales is the "right person to move us to the next level."

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Morales, 2002. Sacramento Bee / Randy Pench


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