LOS ANGELES — The California High-Speed Rail Authority's top executive said Friday that he plans to step down early this summer.
Jeff Morales' announcement came a day after the state treasurer priced $1.2 billion of taxable general obligation bonds to fund the 119-mile Central Valley leg of the line that is to eventually connect San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Morales, who has served as chief executive officer for five years, said in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown that June 2 will be his last day.
"I am very proud of the progress we have made in advancing the nation's first high-speed rail system, against the odds and in spite of the obstacles," Morales said in the letter.
Morales worked as director of the California Department of Transportation under former Gov. Gray Davis in the early 2000s. He then worked as a senior vice president for Parson Brinkerhoff, an international engineering and construction management firm, before taking the authority's top slot.
"Jeff was instrumental at a crucial point in time and led California's High-Speed Rail project through a very challenging period," Brown said in a statement.
The project overcame litigation challenging $10 billion in bond authority approved by voters in 2008. A Sacramento county judge will hear arguments next Thursday seeking an injunction to stop expenditure of the bonds proceeds from this week's sale, a deal that closes the same day as the court hearing.
Morales highlighted the projects accomplishments as growth. He pointed to the fact that work is underway on the Central Valley and noted that the project only had a dozen state employees and no senior leadership when he started. He also lobbed a shot at the project's opponents in the letter.
"We have done what pusillanimous critics said we could not do, putting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to work for California workers, companies and communities," Morales said.