State Controller Betty T. Yee has appointed a civil engineer to the peer review group that oversees planning, engineering, and financial plans for the nation’s first high speed rail system.

Bijan Sartipi, a civil engineer and 36-year veteran of two California agencies, is Controller Yee’s second of two appointments to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) Peer Review Group (PRG). The PRG has eight positions with various areas of expertise established by statute. The Controller selected Sartipi for his decades of experience engineering and constructing large infrastructure projects. Sartipi joins Martin Wachs, also a civil engineer and transportation researcher who Yee selected in 2015 for his planning and finance experience. He fills the seat previously held by civil engineer Mark Leja.

“Peer review is key to ensuring the success of and accountability for our state’s largest infrastructure project,” said Yee, the state’s chief fiscal officer. “Mr. Sartipi’s knowledge and experience with completing large-scale projects will be valuable to this panel’s ongoing efforts.”

Sartipi, who earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of the Pacific in 1981, began his career in civil service as an engineer for the State Water Quality Control Board that same year. In 1982, he joined the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) as a junior civil engineer, rising to the role of Deputy District Director of Design for Caltrans District 4.

From 2002 until April of this year, Sartipi served as Caltrans District Director for the Bay Area, with responsibility for the day to-day operation of 6,500 state highway lane miles and seven state-owned toll bridges in the region’s nine counties. Major construction completed under his watch included the Devil’s Slide Tunnels, Caldecott Tunnel, Presidio Parkway, and the Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program including the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

HSRA business plans to be reviewed by PRG include estimates of capital costs, service levels, operating and maintenance costs, and environmental review schedules. PRG also plays a key role in reviewing estimates of anticipated funds, private and public funding agreements, and potential impediments to completion.

I’m sure the many civil engineer members at ECA wish Mr. Sartipi the best of luck with this new challenge.

By Brandon Pensick, ECA President Email: [email protected]