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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

CHSRA to extend Central Valley construction to Bakersfield


Yesterday, the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) board approved a plan to use $616 million in additional federal funding to extend construction of the initial Central Valley high-speed rail segment south to Bakersfield.

The U.S. Department of Transportation allocated the additional dollars to CHSRA from funds initially reserved for Wisconsin and Ohio, where incoming governors have refused the federal high-speed investment. The authority will have $5.5 billion available to begin constructing the high-speed system.

The additional dollars will enable engineers to build as many as 120 miles of the project’s 520-mile first phase. Earlier this month, CHSRA approved launching initial construction on a 65-mile Central Valley segment between Madera and Corcoran.

Project engineers also considered extending construction north toward Merced, but recommended against it until CHSRA chooses a final alignment. The authority is studying several alternatives through the environmental phase; depending on which one is selected, the tracks might not tie in with existing passenger-rail service — a requirement for this round of federal funding.

Meanwhile, CHSRA is working with Federal Railroad Administration officials to jump-start design and planning work for high-speed stations throughout the state, including Merced, Bakersfield, Gilroy, San Jose and Los Angeles.

Authority officials anticipate the final agreement with the FRA will include allocations to southern California and other areas, enabling CHSRA to advance improvement projects, station-area planning and right-of-way acquisition.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/21/2010