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California High Speed rail project completes environmental review for route to Bakersfield NEWSWIRE

By | November 12, 2019

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SACRAMENTO — The California High-Speed Rail Authority has completed the environmental review process for the 23-mile from Shafter, Calif., to Bakersfield, allowing the authority to move toward construction into Bakersfield.

The process required more than 100 stakeholder meetings, 17 public and technical-group meetings, and 15 monthly meetings coordinating regulatory agencies. More details are available here.

The Nov. 8 announcement is part of an ongoing process of obtaining environmental clearance for the entire route from San Francisco to the Los Angeles area; the authority anticipates releasing its six remaining draft environmental documents in 2020.

The authority is continuing the pre-construction process even though Gov. Gavin Newsom has placed most of the project on hold, although work continues on the segment between Bakersfield and the Central Valley community of Merced. [See “California governor sinks SF-LA high speed rail plans,” Trains News Wire, Feb. 12, 2019.]

15 thoughts on “California High Speed rail project completes environmental review for route to Bakersfield NEWSWIRE

  1. Once you’ve got an operating segment from Bakersfield to Merced, private bidders could be requested to build the remainder of the system into SF and LA (the latter tying with Virgin’s Las Vegas line). It wouldn’t make much sense to just stop work altogether without getting any operable segment, THAT would be a waste.

  2. Per JF, similarly building the line over (actually under) Pacheco Pass to SJ/Diridon is something plausibly and partially funded by Apple, Google, Facebook, and Cisco. And possibly other BigTechCos up the Peninsula into SF given the ongoing electrification. The idea? Opening up Merced and Fresno to real estate development for lower (but not low) cost housing for employees and ancillary spin off staff in Silicon Valley.

  3. Paul has the right idea in going over Pacheco Pass instead of under. You might ask how can a High Speed system do that…well all you need to do is look towards the Germans, who were smart enough to design the ICE3 and ICE4 to operate at high speeds on grades up to 4%. I’m pretty sure a route with a maximum grade of 4% can be found over the range around the Pacheco Pass area, or at least with a minimum of tunneling required. This could also be done for the route into the Los Angeles basin…for some reason no one is even looking at this option though.

  4. Has Gavin stopped playing both sides of the street yet? Gavin loves the project. Gavin hates the project. Whatever Gavin says that is what we need to believe until Gavin says the opposite.

  5. If this project has been blown dead why is construction continuing? Is it not cheaper to pay the cancellation penalty than to continue construction? And if this section is built, what would be the point, if it can never be operated?

    The above comments are genetic in nature and do not form the basis for an attorney/client relationship. They do not constitute legal advice. I am not your attorney. Next load any road.

  6. The project is continuing. What Gov. Newsom attempted to say is that there is no clear path for funding and construction of the segments outside the Central Valley. Currently there are construction projects from Madera to Shafter. A decision is to be made in the next few months regarding additional projects from Shafter into Bakersfield and Madera into Merced. AFAIK the goal is to run trains on the infrastructure.

  7. California’s “low speed” plan to build “high-speed rail “is another disaster in this once great state.

  8. Why is this continuing? So the cosultants can still get paid and the staff doesn’t needto find another job. A bureaucratic zombie.

  9. One thing that necessitated the very high cost of the CHSR project was the decision to run via Bakersfield and Fresno (compared with along the nearly empty I-5 corridor. That added circuity which meant very high speed running (relative to other HSR projects around the world) with very low radii of curvature to make the mandated SF-LA time. It also added much larger land acquisition costs and more RoW conflicts with roads and utilities. Probably higher track maintenance cost and power costs for the trainsets too.

    That ultra low curvature radii requirement likely could not have been achieved over three mountain ranges (Diablos at Pacheco, Tehachapis and San Gabriels) without very expensive tunneling.

  10. Anna, the current plan is to run Amtrak’s San Joaquins over it. CA recently purchased new locomotives capable of running at 125 mph.

    Trouble is this wastes Caltrans investments over the past 30 years in BNSF’s line, skips Wasco and Corcoran and will use a new station in Bakersfield.

    Paul, I agree the CAHSR route was chosen to assure the voters would pass the bond issue…the line of political best fit. Routing it in median of the I5 on desolate west side of the San Joaquin Valley would have been shorter and cheaper.

  11. Pacheco Pass is not very railroad friendly. The highway, Ca 152, that goes over the pass has 5% grades and is climbs and turns around several hills, ridges and the San Luis Reservoir. Putting a railroad over it, IMO, would be a challenge. As also would a tunnel.
    Political it may run into problems as Devon Nunes is the congressional representative on the San Joaquin side. And he has been openly hostile to CHSR.

  12. The place to compare Calif to is Italy. Lots of hills lots of long tunnels, and los of fault lines and earth quakes. And yet they have built many high speed -not super speed lines between major cities. What it really takes is a unified national transport plan to create a long term plan to create political will. Since almost none of those conditions exist in the US, it can’t happen here —even in Calif—although that’s the most likely place.

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