FRA: California High-Speed Rail Phase 1 Clear for Construction

On Friday, the Federal Railroad Administration issued a record of decision that cleared the way for construction to begin on the 114-mile section of the California high-speed rail project between Fresno and Bakersfield. In 2012, the FRA issued a record decision for the 60-mile segment between Fresno and Merced. Together, these two decisions permit the California High-Speed Rail Authority to move forward building the project's full "initial construction segment" between Merced and Bakersfield, a 174-mile stretch through the Central Valley that will eventually be the spine of the 800-mile statewide high-speed rail system connecting the Los Angeles and San Francisco regions in less than three hours, and extensions to San Diego and Sacramento.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority was created in 1996. The record of decision for the tier 1 program-level environmental review for the full statewide system was issued in 2005. The ROD for the first tier 2 project-level environmental review for the segment between Merced and Fresno was issued in 2012 and now the second tier 2 project-level for the segment between Fresno and Bakersfield has been issued thus completing the federally-required NEPA work for the project's initial construction segment.

Upon completion of the initial construction segment, the Authority estimates the new intercity rail operations between Merced and the San Fernando Valley, which are planned to commence in 2022, will generate sufficient ridership and revenue to attract private-sector capital to assist in financing later expansions of the system. In the first year, this new service will allow the state to avoid more than 130,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being spewed into the atmosphere - the equivalent of taking more than 23,000 personal vehicles off the road. The multi-billion dollar will also create thousands of jobs and help better connect fast-growing communities in the Central Valley to the major economic centers of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

More after the jump...
In the ROD, the FRA chose as the preferred alternative a route with several alternative alignments including "portions of the BNSF Alternative in combination with the Corcoran Bypass, Allensworth Bypass, and Bakersfield Hybrid alternatives" (see map below). The FRA preferred these alternative alignments because "they are more compatible with the long-range development planning goals of the region, and will result in fewer potential impacts on wetlands and special-status species habitat," as well as surrounding property owners and religious facilities compared to other alternatives.
"FRA's decision reflects the balancing of different considerations including environmental, technical, economic, operational, as well as community and other stakeholder input. FRA and the Authority carefully considered the potential adverse and beneficial environmental and community impacts that could result from the selection of the various alternatives. This decision also reflects the significant outreach and consultation with local stakeholders and communities conducted by the agencies."

Download the ROD here.


It is great that California will get a high speed train that will run through many major cities. California has a lot of landmarks, and it can be a pain to drive through the state. A high speed train would make travel so much more convenient as well- good to see that public construction works are still in progress!

Seth Ashford |

That's an impressive railway and all, I'm sure it will be pretty neat to be able to zip between Fresno and Bakersfield, not that it would be all that useful to most of the population in Los Angeles or San Francisco. What I am wondering is where are our desalination plants? We need water, not a fast train to zip around in the boondocks.

Ridiculous WASTE of money by psychopaths running the government. The entire Agenda 21 plan is stupid...and evil.

I though we would have had high speed rail by the mid-80s, but along came Ronald Reagan who was anti-public transportation and it never happened. Great idea whose time is way overdue unless you like standing in traffic on the highway for hours at a time like Maureen.
Avoiding 180 thousand metric tons of carbon pollution and extra bonus.

not to worry guys. everybody living in coastal regions is getting moved out to the desert. what? they forgot to tell you? this new rail system is built on raised beds, electrified, with walls on either side no nothing can access the tracks. this will also keep you on the desert side so you can't make it back to the coast. the coast is getting an entirely new makeover for our new Chinese overlords to live in, as such, no Americans will be allowed to live on the California coast after 2018. soon after the move all that disappeared aquifer water that was bought up by the elites will lo and behold come back and the coast will be green again. miracle of miracle. Californians are the stupidest of all Americans, well, except maybe those from New Jersey.

These grand plans are quite unreal. The architects of them know this more than anyone. Please inform yourself of the true state of resources left in OUR world. The rivers of blood in OUR future will be difficult to navigate. The compass has always been here yet we chose to look thlaqelfre other way. And now it is too late. Good luck

Great-Scott!!! "America 2050" appears to have stalled in in June 2014! A full 46 years before their objective! Fire-up the DeLorean, Marty, we've got more work to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!