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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

CHSRA selects preferred route for Merced-Fresno segment


Last week, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) released a report recommending a preferred route for the Merced-Fresno section of the Central Valley corridor.

CHSRA studied and evaluated potential routes for the 65-mile Merced-Fresno section, between 2001 to 2005. Based on the authority’s analysis, CHSRA in 2010 identified five alternative north-south alignments. In August 2011, the authority narrowed the list to three routes, which were included in CHSRA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR).

Based on community feedback and further analysis, the authority selected what it calls the “hybrid alternative” — which combines elements of the other two routes — as the preferred route. For the most part, the corridor parallels Union Pacific Railroad and State Route 99 between Merced and Fresno. To avoid impacts to downtown Madera, the route then runs east, so it’s adjacent to the BNSF Railway Co. corridor.

“Not only does this route have the fewest overall impacts, but the hybrid route is financially sensible, saving hundreds of millions compared to the other two routes,” said CHSRA Deputy Director of Planning Dan Leavitt in a prepared statement.

The Union Pacific Railroad/State Route 99 alternative would have cost $1 billion more than the hybrid alternative and the BNSF route, $500 million more.

Authority officials will present the recommendation to the board at its Dec. 13 meeting. CHSRA is proposing that the recommended route be identified as the preferred alternative in the Final EIR/EIS, which is being prepared and is scheduled to be released in early 2012.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/5/2011