Brosamer, the Walnut Creek contractor, contends the public is paying a premium for the Wine Train project. "It would have been a hell of a lot cheaper if they had put it out to bid," he said.

But the quality of the construction is first rate, Brosamer said, because Suulutaaq subcontracted much of the job to the giant Peter W. Kiewit & Co. engineering firm, which is also a contractor on the Bay Bridge.

"The reality is, Suulutaaq isn't doing much," Brosamer said, "They've got some staff on the job, and they're running some subs, but Kiewit is doing the work."

Federal records show that Suulutaaq is paying Kiewit $28.1 million — 53 percent of the total stimulus contract. Suulutaaq is keeping about $20.4 million, or 38 percent of the total. The rest, about $4.7 million, goes to other subcontractors, all from the lower 48 states.

(California Watch is a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting with offices in the Bay Area and Sacramento. California Watch reporter Agustin Armendariz contributed to this report, which was edited by Mark Katches and copy edited by William Cooley.)