Here’s the press release below from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, saying that agency staff is recommending that the initial 65-mile segment of tracks be built between Madera and Corcoran in the San Joaquin Valley, with a completion date of 2017. The segment of track would be part of the Anaheim to San Francisco line that is scheduled to be built before the line is extended south to San Diego.
The press release doesn’t say anything about the purchase of rail cars or when the tracks would actually come into use:
STARTING POINT FOR STATEWIDE CONSTRUCTION RECOMMENDED
Authority staff have recommended a starting point for construction on a critical portion of track in the heart of the Central Valley, which the Board will review along with three other options, at its December 2, 2010, meeting.
About the recommendation:
* 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.
* 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 recommendation is based on key factors including:
* 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. (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.)
* The recommendation follows direction last month by the Federal Railroad Administration, which indicated 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.
In making this decision the Authority Board will consider the best location to begin construction that meets the federal and state requirements and will best prepare the Authority to finish building the nation’s first true high-speed rail system, connecting Los Angeles to Bay Area.
No construction can begin until the Authority completes its relevant environmental reviews of the project. The federal deadline for completing these reviews is September 2011.
We’re delighted to include you in this announcement and urge you to stay in touch (via email, our Facebook page, or Twitter). Your continued engagement and interest is welcome as this project moves forward. More information, construction updates and a map of the recommendation are available on our Web site.