California High-Speed Rail Authority receives environmental review approval
The announcement allows the Authority to move forward with the completion of the environmental reviews for the entire first phase of the high-speed rail programme from San Francisco to the Los Angeles area.
In another step toward implementing the United States’ first high-speed rail system, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) has announced that the State of California has received approval from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to assume its federal environmental review responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal environmental laws.
California State Transportation Agency Secretary, David Kim, said: “This is welcome news for the State of California and the High-Speed Rail programme. The ability for us to conduct this environmental review and move the project forward will enable momentum and continued progress on this transformative mobility project. We commend the FRA for taking this much-needed action.”
The Authority’s CEO, Brian Kelly, said: “This action is an important milestone for the high-speed rail programme. This allows the Authority to complete the environmental review process more efficiently, while still maintaining the same level of review with multiple opportunities for public input and collaboration. We’ve lost valuable time waiting with the FRA’s disengagement, so I am very thankful for this action, and I am hopeful this step is the beginning of a more collaborative and cooperative relationship prospectively. We both gain from a strong partnership.”
With NEPA assignment, the Authority will now approve environmental documents for the high-speed rail programme, as the state already has authority to do for highway projects, while continuing to perform its lead agency responsibilities under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This will allow the Authority to continue construction progress in the Central Valley, and finalise route decisions throughout the state, while at the same time meeting its federal grant commitments and maintaining critical environmental protections.