THE California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has released a final environmental impact report/environmental impact statement (EIR/EIS) for a 144.8km section of the high-speed line between San Jose Diridon station in Santa Clara, to Carlucci Road in Merced County.

The section would pass through Santa Clara, San Benito and Merced counties and the cities of Santa Clara, San Jose, Morgan Hill, Gilroy and Los Banos.

The EIR/EIS evaluated four alternatives. The preferred alignment would cost $US 19bn, which CHSRA says is the lowest capital cost of the alternatives. This preferred choice would include upgrading existing rail lines between San Jose and Gilroy and constructing a new high-speed rail alignment with more than 24.1km of tunnelling through Pacheco Pass in the Diablo Range. There would also be 24.4km of viaducts, 48.7km at grade, 41.6km on embankment and 3.7km in trenches. CHSRA says the preferred alternative will also modernise and electrify the existing rail corridor from San Jose to Gilroy, allowing for both high-speed rail and electrified Caltrain services to South San Jose and Southern Santa Clara County.

The CHSRA board will consider the final EIR/EIS document for approval during its meeting on April 20-21. Funding is not yet available for the section.

Last month CHSRA confirmed in its Draft 2022 Business Plan that cost estimates have risen from $US 100bn in 2020 to $US 105bn for the 804.6km Phase 1 section from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim.

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