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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

CHSRA board reviews initial operating segments, environmental reports


On July 14, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) held its monthly board meeting. Among the topics of discussion: potential initial operating segments and an overview of the soon-to-be-released draft environmental reports for the Central Valley segments.

CHSRA staffers recommended San Jose-to-Bakersfield, Merced-to-Palmdale and Merced-to-San Fernando Valley as potential track segments because they “connect significant populations and may support profitable passenger-rail service sufficient to cover, if not exceed, operating costs,” according to a press release. CHSRA plans to include the recommendations in its October report to the state legislature.

Authority officials also reviewed the process for releasing the Central Valley draft environmental reports. CHSRA plans to release the reports in early August for the Merced-Fresno and Fresno-Bakersfield segments. The reports will be posted on the agency’s web site. The public comment period will begin on the day the reports are released and remain open for 45 days. CHSRA plans to hold numerous public workshops along the alignment and schedule five public hearings. Following the comment period, authority officials plan to gather and respond to all comments, and incorporate them into the final environmental report.

The board will consider the comments when making its final decision on the alignment. The Federal Railroad Administration and CHSRA plan to issue final environmental clearance for the Central Valley segment in spring 2012.

CHSRA board members also heard from residents and representatives from the city of Palmdale, which recently filed a federal lawsuit to prevent CHSRA from using federal grants and Proposition 1A bond funds to study an alternative route for the high-speed rail project in the Antelope Valley. The authority plans to study an Interstate 5/Grapevine corridor that would route trains away from Palmdale, which long has supported bringing high-speed rail service near the city.

“The people of Palmdale want high-speed rail. It will provide connectivity and economic opportunity — we have the population to support the necessary ridership and the small businesses eager to participate,” Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford said during the meeting.

CHSRA plans to continue studying the Palmdale alignment and station options, but needs to explore other potential corridors, as well, said CHSRA Chief Executive Officer Roelof van Ark.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/18/2011