CHSRA board clears the way for San Jose to Merced project section

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The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Board of Directors on April 28 certified the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) and unanimously approved the approximately 90-mile San Jose to Merced project section in Northern California.

This action completes the environmental clearance for nearly 400 miles of the high-speed rail project’s 500-mile Phase 1 alignment from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim – including a contiguous stretch between Merced and Palmdale plus January’s clearance of the Burbank to Los Angeles section.

The the CHSRA board actions mark their first certification of a project section environmental document in the Northern California region and the first in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“Today’s approval represents another major milestone and brings us one step closer to delivering high-speed rail between the Silicon Valley and the Central Valley,” CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly said in a statement. “The authority is poised to make the vision of high-speed rail in the Bay Area a reality. We look forward to continued collaboration with our federal, state and local partners to advance the project in Northern California.”

This project section will connect the existing construction in the Central Valley to San Jose’s Diridon Station, slashing travel times and improving mobility in both regions. The high-speed rail system will make the trip from Fresno to San Jose in just one hour, compared to three hours by car today.

“I am grateful, as are all of us in the City of San Jose, for the extraordinary work that’s now culminated in this environmental document reflecting thousands of hours of stakeholder outreach and an enormous amount of environmental analysis,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Completion of this critically important high-speed rail project helps the state expand economic opportunity and affordable housing, two critical goals for all of us.”

The board’s certification of the San Jose to Merced Final EIR/EIS and approval of the project section is a critical milestone that moves the project section closer to being “shovel ready” for when pre-construction and construction funding becomes available, the statement says.

The CHSRA Board of Directors selected Alternative 4 as the approved project alignment among the four alignment alternatives studied. This alternative modernizes and electrifies the existing rail corridor between San Jose and Gilroy, allowing for both high-speed rail and Caltrain service.

“Next to San Jose, Gilroy will be the next most significant transit hub on this stretch,” said Gilroy Mayor Marie Blankley. “Gilroy Transit Center is very much ready for this to happen.”

East of Gilroy, the alignment includes more than 15 miles of tunnels through the Pacheco Pass in the Diablo Range. The Board will consider certification for the final environmental document for the San Francisco to San Jose project section this summer.

The Final EIR/EIS and the Board’s certification and approval resolutions are on the Authority’s website: www.hsr.ca.gov.

This approval was just one of several actions taken by the CHSRA board during the two-day board meeting, during the meeting they also:

  • Unanimously approved moving forward with the design of the four stations (Merced, Fresno, Kings-Tulare and Bakersfield) in the Central Valley.
  • Unanimously approved a multi-million dollar funding and planning agreement with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LA Metro) to modernize the historic LA Union Station through the Link Union Station (Link US) project. Union Station will be a major connective hub for California’s future high-speed rail service in the LA basin.
  • Adopted the 2022 Business Plan.

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