California High-Speed Rail Board Approves Extension Design Contracts

The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors has approved design contracts for the line’s extension to Merced and Bakersfield.

These final Central Valley packages will complete the 171-mile high-speed rail electrified segment, which will eventually connect to the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Merced overpass construction
Merced overpass construction

The approval follows the announcement that the Authority has been awarded 25 million USD (29.63m EUR) towards the Merced extension from the US Department of Transport’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant scheme.

This funding will cover over half the costs of the extension.

Stantec Consulting Services has been awarded the Merced to Madera extension design contract. Valued at 41m USD (40.3m EUR), this contract covers roughly 33.9 miles and will include 40 structures.

Meanwhile, HNTB won the Fresno to Bakersfield extension contract, which covers 18.5 miles between the cities of Shafter and Bakersfield and will include 31 structures. This contract is valued at 44.9m USD (44.13m EUR).

Both contracts are expected to last two years.

The two companies will now work with the Authority to finalise the project’s design. This will involve refining costs, pinpointing any potential travel time improvements and mapping the right of way and utility relocation.

Tom Richards, Chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said:

“These contracts bolster the Authority’s effort to have high-speed trains operating in the heart of California by the end of the decade.

“They demonstrate our ability to leverage lessons learned from past contracts, increase project readiness and prepare for continued progress on this transformative project.”

The Authority’s board of directors is also expected to take action on the San Francisco to San Jose environmental document before the end of this week.

This could lead to the finalisation of environmental work for more than 420 miles of the 500-mile-long project.

Last month, the Authority released its summer 2022 construction update to highlight progress on the state’s high-speed rail project.

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