THE California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has issued its Draft 2022 Business Plan covering project progress, which reveals 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.

The project was originally expected to cost approximately $US 40bn but CHSRA says the figure has changed due to scope changes and mitigations.

These include addressing the visual impact of the Bakersfield - Palmdale section on the César E. Chávez National Monument/Nuestra Señora Reina de La Paz National Historic Landmark, enhanced noise barriers through the city of Tehachapi, added stream restoration and safety enhancements along the Pacific Crest Trail, and further design and mitigation refinements from an added tunnel/trench approach south of Hollywood Burbank Airport.

In the plan, released in early February, CHSRA outlined how new funding from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and California governor, Mr Gavin Newsom’s, proposed Transport Infrastructure Package, including the remaining $US 4.2bn in Proposition 1A bond funds, would allow it to:

  • deliver “as soon as possible” an initial operational electrified 275.1km double-track section between Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield
  • invest state wide to advance engineering and design work as each project section is environmentally cleared, and
  • leverage new federal and state funds for targeted state-wide investments that benefit local service providers and advance high-speed rail in California. This includes a continued partnership with Caltrain to electrify the commuter corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, and working with class 1 Union Pacific to expand passenger electrification to Gilroy, early grade separations in the Burbank - Los Angeles shared corridor where Metrolink and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner services currently operate and high-speed trains will run in the future, and joint funding for a new, single Merced Multimodal station where regional Altamont Corridor Express and inter-city San Joaquins services will connect with high-speed rail.

So far, 468.3km of the 804.6km Phase 1 route has been environmentally cleared, including a 244km section between Merced and Palmdale and the 20.9km Burbank - Los Angeles section. CHSRA anticipates that another 210.8km will receive environmental clearance by mid-2022.

CHSRA says it has substantially completed all major design work for the 191.5km section between Madera and Kern counties and established a third-party task force to advance first-order utility work by resolving critical outstanding issues.

CHSRA also expects to commence procurements to advance design of the 53.1km extension north from Madera to Merced, the 30.5km extension south from Poplar Avenue to Bakersfield, and the four stations at Merced, Fresno, Kings/Tulare and Bakersfield.

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