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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

CHSRA extends environmental work timeframe for Bay Area, L.A. segments


Yesterday, the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) announced it will “re-evaluate the timing” of the environmental review being conducted for the San Francisco-San Jose and Los Angeles-Anaheim sections of the state’s proposed high-speed rail system, says CHSRA spokesperson Rachel Wall.

The authority previously had expected to complete Draft Environmental Impact Reports (EIR) for the segments this winter. However, the Federal Railroad Administration since has directed CHSRA to use its allocated American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars to launch initial high-speed rail construction in the Central Valley, meaning the authority does not have to meet the stringent deadlines that apply to stimulus-funded projects for the San Francisco-San Jose and L.A.-Anaheim segments. So, CHSRA Chief Executive Officer Roelof van Ark recommended at yesterday’s board meeting that the Bay Area and L.A.-Anaheim draft EIRs not be issued before the end of 2011.

The Draft EIR delay won’t delay the project, but will give CHSRA more time to study the line’s northernmost and southernmost sections, both of which are technically challenging, says Wall.

“We have more time to study difficult engineering and environmental issues that come with very urban and densely populated areas,” she says. “We have more time now to wrap in more input that we can put into the environmental documents.”

CHSRA plans to work with local and regional agencies and communities to incorporate a phased implementation approach for the environmental work.

“The goal is still to get service up and running between L.A. and San Francisco by 2020 in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible,” says Wall.

Angela Cotey

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/4/2011