The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CAHSR Authority) has announced that its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for the critical Fresno-Bakersfield section of the project. This report is a detailed review of the section between Poplar Avenue (Shafter) and downtown Bakersfield.
The report assesses the ‘locally generated alternative’, which runs from Shafter in an eastbound direction towards State Route 99 on extant Class 1 Union Pacific tracks, before running southwards into Bakersfield. The report goes on to compare this option to the one previously evaluated in 2014, which runs largely at grade, with a four-mile elevated section through Shafter, following the BNSF corridor and State Route 43 through Shafter and State Route 58 into Bakersfield.
There will be a board meeting in Bakersfield on 16 October 2018 where the board of directors will admit public feedback on all items on the agenda. During this meeting they will also deliberate on whether to certify the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report and approve an alignment between Poplar Avenue and Bakersfield.
The Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report/Statement was prepared jointly by the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the Federal Railroad Administration to comply with requirements set out in the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority and the FRA explained the need for the high-speed rail line:
“The purpose of the statewide HSR System is to provide a reliable high-speed electrified train system that links the major metropolitan areas of the state, and that delivers predictable and consistent travel times. A further objective is to provide an interface with commercial airports, mass transit, and the highway network and relieve capacity constrains of the existing transportation system as increases in intercity travel demand in California occur, in a manner sensitive to and protective of California’s unique natural resources.”
The California high-speed rail project will, when completed, run 800 miles of track with trains capable of travelling at up to 220 miles per hour. The line will connect major urban areas such as Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area. The fully electrified system will also feature modern safety, signalling and automated train control systems. The California High-Speed Rail Authority estimates that once up and running the high-speed line would service more than 90 percent of California’s population with more than 200 trains during the week.
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