California High Speed Rail Hits Milestones and Federal Grants Released
California High Speed Rail Milestones
Three important milestones were reached for California's high-speed rail project in the past week:
1. A federal grant of $25 million was awarded to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) for design work to extend the initial 119 miles under construction in the Central Valley. The funding was awarded through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program.
2. The CHSRA Board of Directors approved design contracts for extending the Central Valley line into downtown Bakersfield and Merced. The $41 million Merced to Madera design contract was awarded to Stantec Consulting Services Inc. and covers 40 structures over about 40 miles. The $44.9 million Fresno to Bakersfield design contract was awarded to HNTB and covers 31 structures over about 18.5 miles.
The design work will move these sections closer to construction and sets the stage for a 171-mile, electrified high-speed line from downtown Merced to Bakersfield. Once completed 220 mph trains will make 18 daily roundtrips on this route, cutting a 3 hour trip to 90 minutes. The goal is for America's first high-speed line to be in operation by the end of the decade in the Central Valley.
3. The CHSRA Board of Directors approved the final EIR/EIS for the San Francisco to San Jose project section. This segment is where existing Caltrain service is being electrified and upgraded, allowing high-speed trains to share tracks with new, high-performance commuter trains. With approval of this EIR/EIS, 420 miles out of the 500 mile alignment from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim are now environmentally cleared.
On Thursday the U.S. Department of Transportation announced over $233 million in grants for intercity passenger rail. This funding will be distributed to 11 projects in 8 states under the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program. The projects include bridge replacements, tunnel rehabilitation, signaling upgrades, station improvements and more. These investments are part of a larger vision for improving passenger rail in California, the Midwest and the Northeast Corridor.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a $1.3 million grant supporting a planning study for an Ann Arbor to Traverse City/Petoskey line. An initial feasibility study was completed in 2018 and a planning study is the next step in bringing passenger rail service to Northern Michigan.
This 240 mile line would stitch together the growing population centers in the northwest and southeast of Michigan, attracting workers in both regions and boosting the tourism industry. The line is already owned by the Michigan Department of Transportation, making it a prime candidate for being a passenger focused line.