California High-Speed Rail clears final hurdle to link San Francisco to Downtown Los Angeles

Posted: 2 July 2024 | | No comments yet

The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors has cleared the final environmental hurdle for the 38-mile Palmdale to Burbank segment, paving the way for transformative high-speed rail connectivity across the state.

California High-Speed Rail clears final hurdle to link San Francisco to Downtown Los Angeles

Credit: California High-Speed Rail Authority

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) Board of Directors has achieved a significant milestone with the approval of the final environmental document for the 38-mile segment connecting Palmdale to Burbank. This approval represents a crucial step in the development of the high-speed rail network that aims to revolutionise travel across the state.

The newly approved Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) clears the path for the construction of a high-speed rail system capable of speeds up to 220mph. This section is projected to reduce travel time between the Antelope Valley and the San Fernando Valley to just 17 minutes, offering a rapid alternative to the congested highways.

“This is a transformative project for the state of California as a whole, and today’s approval is a major milestone for connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours. It’s also transformational for Los Angeles County, connecting Palmdale to Burbank in a way that’s never been possible before,” said CEO Brian Kelly.

The Palmdale to Burbank Project Section will feature approximately 30 miles of tunnels, including a substantial 28-mile stretch through mountainous terrain. The approved SR14A Alternative, spanning 38 miles along State Route 14, will operate as a dedicated high-speed rail system separated from other traffic. Notably, much of the rail line will be underground, mitigating environmental impacts in sensitive areas like Acton, the Angeles National Forest and the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

Under the leadership of the authority as the lead agency for environmental review under CEQA and NEPA, the Draft EIR/EIS underwent extensive public review and comment from September to December 2022. The approved alignment for the Palmdale to Burbank segment represents a balanced approach, minimizing impacts on communities and environmental resources compared to alternative proposals.

Looking ahead, the authority is nearing completion of environmental clearance for the full 494-mile Phase 1 system, with only the Los Angeles to Anaheim segment remaining, expected to be finalised in 2025. Meanwhile, construction continues on the 119 miles currently underway, expanding the electrified high-speed rail from Merced to Bakersfield.

With over 25 active construction sites in the Central Valley and 463 miles fully environmentally cleared from the Bay Area to Los Angeles County, the authority remains committed to advancing California’s ambitious high-speed rail initiative, promising enhanced connectivity and sustainability across the region.

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