California High-Speed Rail: the Fresno Trench Project

As part of California’s high-speed rail project, work has now begun on State Route 180 – SR 180 – in Fresno, central California, between streets G and H near the city centre, to deliver the Fresno Trench project.

The Fresno Trench Project

The work currently being undertaken is part of the SR 180 Passageway and Fresno Trench ProjectsShoulder improvements will be made to the state route over the next two months, affecting traffic during the quieter times of day, between 8pm and 5am. The Fresno Trench will see the high-speed rail tracks pass underneath State Route 180 along with other structures over a distance of more than two miles. The trench itself will be 40ft deep. These will then be the first underground construction works on California’s high-speed railway.

Rendering of the Fresno Trench project

© California High-Speed Rail Authority

Construction Works

For the shoulder improvements, due to start in July, SR 180 will be closed eastbound, along with periodic closures of both the north and southbound SR 99 connector road.

Excavation work for the trench will last for around 18 months. This work will require the east and westbound lanes to be moved to accommodate the construction project. Traffic controls will be in operation throughout this phase and drivers might experience slight delays.

Eliminating Level Crossings

Construction work began on the Fresno Trench near Thorne and H streets in February 2016. The soil was excavated to allow the foundations to be built. Once the trench is completed, it will start between Olive and Belmont Avenues and continue for around two miles to Stanislaus Street. The great advantage of this trench is that the high-speed trains won’t have to cross highways and roads, making it a key safety feature. Overall, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will able to eliminate twenty level crossings between Madera and Fresno.

Construction Package 1

Construction Package 1, the first 32 miles of high-speed rail between Avenue 19 in Madera Country and East American Avenue in Fresco County, currently has seven active construction sites that the California High-Speed Rail Authority is working on together with Tutor-Perini/Zachry/Parsons (TPZP).

The 7 projects are:

  • Fresno River Viaduct Construction
  • Cottonwood Creek
  • San Joaquin River Viaduct
  • 99 Re-alignment
  • Fresno Trench
  • Tuolumne Street Bridge Demolition and Construction
  • Cedar Viaduct

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