California High-Speed Rail Authority announces executive transition

Written by Maggie Lancaster, assistant editor
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After five years of service for the California High-Speed Rail Authority Chief Executive Officer Jeff Morales announced that he will step down from his position early this summer after the Board of Directors is expected to select a replacement.


Morales was named chief executive officer in May 2012. The California High-Speed Rail Authority says Morales will work closely with the board to ensure the smooth transition of his successor. The Authority’s Board of Directors is expected to meet in the coming weeks to consider candidates before Morales officially departs on June 2, 2017.

Under Morales’ leadership, the Authority has:

  • Injected upwards of $4 billion into California’s economy
  • Supported thousands of jobs in areas that have suffered chronic unemployment and put almost a thousand tradesmen and women to work
  • Engaged well over 300 California small and disadvantaged businesses
  • Grown from just over a dozen employees to more than 200 employees
  • Managed three successful procurement bids totaling more than $3 billion in contracts for 119 miles of construction, with each bid coming in hundreds of millions of dollars below engineers’ estimates
  • Advanced the unprecedented environmental approval of the remaining segments
  • Secured approval of the “d” plan for expenditure of bond funds, with first bond sales occurring this week
  • Improved the right-of-way acquisition process, recovering from early delays
  • Reached agreements with railroads and utilities on critical alignment issues
  • Initiated the process to bring an early operator onboard this summer, signaling the shift towards commercial operations
  • Negotiated a landmark agreement with the Madera and Merced Farm Bureaus that resolved many agricultural issues and now serves as a template for agricultural land mitigation system-wide

Before serving as chief executive officer of the Authority, Morales was senior vice president of Parsons Brinckerhoff. He also previously served as executive vice president of the Chicago Transit Authority and as Director of the California Department of Transportation. His experience at the federal level includes serving as a member of President-Elect Obama’s transition team focusing on transportation, Vice President Al Gore’s National Performance Review, the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, the U.S. Department of Transportation and as U.S. Senate staff.