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California HSR Clears Central Valley to Silicon Valley

April 29, 2022

California High-Speed Rail Authority Clears Central Valley to Silicon Valley Segment

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CAHSRA) Board of Directors approved the 90-mile San Jose to Merced project section in Northern California yesterday. To date, CAHSRA has cleared 400 miles of the corridor’s 500-mile alignment between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Emphasizing the national importance of California’s high-speed rail project, Rail Passengers Association took part in an April 27 public hearing, encouraging the Authority to adopt its 2022 Business Plan and approve the Final EIR/EIS for the San Jose to Merced Project Section. Sean Jeans-Gail, Rail Passengers Vice President of Government Affairs, gave a brief public statement of support on behalf of the association.

“In addition to creating thousands of family-wage jobs for Californians, an electrified intercity rail corridor is an integral part in decarbonizing the state’s transportation system and achieving the ambitious climate goals the state has established,” Jeans-Gail told CAHSRA’s board members. “It is important that the CVS be understood—both by elected officials and the public—as a key element in the modernization of the entire state rail system, with synchronized connections to regional, commuter and transit rail services. Without a high-capacity, electrified trunk, California’s rail system cannot achieve its goals of shifting millions of passengers from airplanes and highways onto rail.”

This project section will connect the existing construction in the Central Valley to San Jose’s Diridon Station, slashing travel between Fresno and San from three hours by car to an hour by train. By certifying the San Jose to Merced Final EIR/EIS, CAHSRA has hit a critical milestone that moves the project section closer to construction, opening a path for the Authority to apply for billions in new funding for rail provided by the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

“I am grateful, as are all of us in the City of San Jose, for the extraordinary work that’s now culminated in this environmental document reflecting thousands of hours of stakeholder outreach and an enormous amount of environmental analysis,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Completion of this critically important high-speed rail project helps the state expand economic opportunity and affordable housing, two critical goals for all of us.”

The CAHSRA Board also unanimously approved the design of four stations in the Central Valley—Merced, Fresno, Kings-Tulare and Bakersfield—and green-lit a multi-million dollar funding and planning agreement with the LA Metro to modernize the historic LA Union Station.

“We applaud the California High Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors for their approval of this important funding agreement of $423.335 million for Metro’s Link Union Station Phase A project, a key funding milestone for the [CHSRA] bookend project here in Southern California,” said L.A. Metro CEO Stephanie N. Wiggins in a statement. “Metro remains committed to working closely with the [CHSRA] to bring more investments to improve this vital passenger rail corridor, accommodate for future high-speed rail and promote economic development in the region.”

The Link US project will add new run-through tracks on an elevated rail yard to improve operational flexibility at L.A. Union Station, expanding capacity for conventional and high-speed rail operations. It will also build a new passenger concourse for shorter wait times and to allow for better connections between high-speed rail, Amtrak, Metrolink, Metro Rail and bus services.