Environmental Clearance for California High-Speed Rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles

The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board has cleared the final environmental milestone for its route between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

This environmental document covers the Palmdale to Burbank segment of the high-speed rail connection. Beyond Los Angeles, Phase 1 of this project will also extend to Anaheim, with the Los Angeles to Anaheim section remaining the final segment to await environmental clearance.

Palmdale to Burbank project section
Palmdale to Burbank project section

The Board’s approval of the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the 38-mile Palmdale to Burbank section is a key milestone in the project.

This segment will facilitate a high-speed connection between the Antelope Valley and the San Fernando Valley, reducing travel time to approximately 17 minutes at speeds of up to 220 mph. This offers a significant improvement compared to car travel.

CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Brian Kelly said:

“This is a transformative project for the state of California as a whole, and today’s approval is a major milestone for connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours. It’s also transformational for Los Angeles County, connecting Palmdale to Burbank in a way that’s never been possible before.”

This approval advances the project towards becoming shovel-ready as funding becomes available.

The approved SR14A Alternative alignment runs partly along State Route 14 and spans approximately 38 miles, including about 30 miles of tunnelling through mountains, with 28 miles specifically through the Angeles National Forest and the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. This alignment minimises community and environmental impacts compared to other alternatives.

Authority Board Chair Tom Richards said:

“Today’s approval is more than a historic milestone – it closes the gap between Los Angeles and San Francisco. We value our Authority team and its tireless support and collaboration with local and regional agencies and stakeholders as we work together to improve transportation in California for future generations.”

463 miles of the high-speed rail programme are now fully environmentally cleared from the Bay Area to Los Angeles County.

Environmental clearance for the Los Angeles to Anaheim section is expected to be finalised next year. This will complete clearance for the full 494-mile Phase 1 system.

Meanwhile, the Authority is currently extending the 119 miles under construction to 171 miles of future electrified high-speed rail from Merced to Bakersfield. Presently, there are more than 25 active construction sites in the Central Valley.

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