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For Immediate Release:November 24, 2010
Contact: Rachel Wall916.384.9026
SACRAMENTO – To meet federal and state requirements while building
the backbone of a high-speed train system that will eventually run from Los
Angeles to the Bay Area, engineers for the California
High-Speed Rail Authority today submitted to the Board a
recommendation that the project start construction
on a critical portion of track in the heart of the
In making his recommendation, which the Authority’s Board of Directors will consider next week, Authority
CEO Roelof van Ark noted that the first segment to
enter construction would make the best use of the $4.3 billion in currently available construction funds
and meet all state and federal legal requirements.
decision before the Authority is an important one,
but we should all remember that this project is a marathon,
not a single stride,” van Ark said. “It’s not about the first 100 yards,
the first mile, or even the first 50 miles. It’s about the finish line –
building the nation’s first true high-speed rail system, connecting
California’s great cities the entire distance between them.”
recommendation follows a decision last month by
Federal Railroad Administration, which directed that
the federal funding awarded to the project – both the stimulus funding
and the Fiscal Year 2010-11 dollars – must be dedicated to a single
section of the project
in the Central Valley.
Spanning about 65 miles, the recommended segment would start near Madera,
include the construction of two new stations – one in downtown Fresno and the other east of Hanford
– and continue south to Corcoran.
Estimates place the cost of the proposed section at
$4.15 billion, which leaves enough money to – if necessary – connect these tracks with existing rail lines as per
a federal “independent utility” requirement.
Central Valley business leaders applauded the recommendation,
which promises to bring much-needed jobs to a region hit hard by the recession.
“It is no secret that advanced infrastructure and transportation
systems are the key to economic growth. The country
prospered by the creation of the canal and lock system,
river passages, railroads and the interstate highway.
Transporting people and product is necessary for economic
development and job generation,” said Mike Dozier, lead executive for the California
Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley.
“There is no better place for high-speed rail to begin in the United States than the San
Joaquin Valley. The Valley offers the most economic
landscape for the initial stage of construction and
testing. The Valley experiences some of the highest
unemployment rates in the nation and very much needs
the jobs and economic impact that such a project would
create,” Dozier said. “The cost to build high-speed rail is high, but the cost to ignore the opportunity
and rely on the existing 100-year-old transportation technology is prohibitive.”
The cost of the project accounts for two new stations,
right-of-way acquisition, viaduct construction, site preparation,
grading, vegetation restoration, rail bridge construction,
roadway realignments, relocation of existing railways
and utilities. The final track would be ready in 2017.
The Authority will also consider three other options
for beginning the 520-mile project, however, each of them would either leave
money unused or limit the expandability of the project.
No construction can begin until the Authority completes
its relevant environmental reviews of the project.
The federal deadline for completing these reviews is
Starting with these first 65 miles – from near where trains will eventually turn west toward
San Jose, south through Fresno toward Bakersfield – allows the greatest flexibility to build in either
direction as more federal dollars become available,
van Ark said.
“Starting here gives us flexibility to build in either
direction – north and west to the Bay Area or south to Los Angeles
– as more federal dollars become available,” van Ark said. “The funding other states are sending back to Washington
– if redirected to California – would allow us to extend initial construction all
the way to Bakersfield.”
View the map of the recommended section for the start of high-speed rail construction.
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