High-speed rail clears latest hurdle

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Work is underway on the signature arches that will serve as the high-speed rail gateway to Fresno and Madera counties

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has given the state the go-ahead to take the next step in planning for a high-speed rail project.

Work is underway on the signature arches that will serve as the high-speed rail gateway to Fresno and Madera counties

The FRA is allowing the state to assume its federal environmental review responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal environmental laws. This means that the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) can complete the environmental reviews it has to undertake as part of its federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant agreement.

“This is welcome news for the State of California and the High-Speed Rail program,” said California State Transportation Agency secretary David Kim.

“The ability for us to conduct this environmental review and move the project forward will enable momentum and continued progress on this transformative mobility project. We commend the FRA for taking this much-needed action.”

Construction efforts for the project are already underway in the Central Valley, and now, with the approval to proceed, the CHSRA will be able to finalize route decisions throughout other areas of the state.

“This action is an important milestone for the high-speed rail program,” said CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly.

“This allows [the CHSRA] to complete the environmental review process more efficiently, while still maintaining the same level of review with multiple opportunities for public input and collaboration. We’ve lost valuable time waiting with the FRA’s disengagement, so I am very thankful for this action, and I am hopeful this step is the beginning of a more collaborative and cooperative relationship prospectively. We both gain from a strong partnership.”

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