(AP) - The board overseeing California's high-speed rail project has voted to give a $700 million contract to consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.
The board unanimously approved the seven-year deal with the New York-based company on Tuesday at its meeting in Los Angeles. It came after a staff report that recommended the consultants over competing firm Bechtel Infrastructure Corporation.
The board has approved more than $200 million in past consulting fees for Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Critics have said the board has relied too much on outside contractors, and in particular has rubber-stamped the suggestions of Parsons Brinckerhoff. The rail authority's CEO Jeff Morales was hired from the consulting firm in 2012.
Board members have said they had to rely on the firm more in the past when they lacked sufficient staff of their own to oversee the project.