Bullet train to San Jose clears another hurdle

(BCN) — With a recent vote, the high-speed train is getting a little closer to the advancement of the tracks in the bay area. Once completed, passengers will be able to travel by train from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours. On August 18, the California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority’s board of directors voted unanimously to approve the Environmental Impact Report along the 49-mile section from San Francisco to San Jose. Nancy Miller, board member, was absent. This section of the project is estimated at over $5.3 billion.

Anthony Lopez, spokesman for the California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority, said the next steps are finalizing the design and preconstruction. Cost estimates for Phase 1 between San Francisco and Anaheim range from $76.6 billion to $113 billion. Lopez said the council’s recent action extended the environmental clearance to more than 420 miles. Environmental reports for the last two sections of Southern California are scheduled for 2023-24.

Rod Diridon, chairman emeritus of the California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority, said that before the pandemic, nearly 200,000 people commuted daily from the Central Valley to the Las Vegas region. bay, driving two to three and a half hours each way.

“You arrive exhausted. You had to leave before the kids got up,” he told San Jose Spotlight. “When you come home it’s after the kids’ little league game and maybe you get there in time to tuck them in. It’s not a suitable lifestyle.”

When complete, the high-speed train will connect San Jose to Fresno in an hour, a huge time saver for people who have chosen to leave the area in search of affordable housing, Diridon said. Trains traveling at 200 miles per hour will significantly reduce commute times for Central Valley commuters.

“The most serious obstacle to high technology and employment in our region is the lack of housing,” Diridon said. “It will breathe new life into Silicon Valley because we will have access to affordable housing in the Central Valley.”

The high-speed rail line will feed into San Jose via Diridon Station, which is set to become a major transit hub with the expansion of BART from the north. To connect the Central Valley to Gilroy and then to San Jose, the project will require a tunnel through Pacheco Pass.

years of preparation

The Rail Authority was created by the state Legislature and Governor Pete Wilson in 1996. In November 2008, voters approved a $9.95 billion bond measure to build a high-speed rail , with Phase 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim. In 2015, the project started in the central valley. As cost overruns and delays have extended the schedule, a rail line is expected to connect Bakersfield to Merced by 2030 and the Bay Area by 2033. Completing the road from Los Angeles to San Francisco could cost $105 billion, according to a state estimate.

State Assemblyman Ash Kalra said the high-speed rail will be a critical connection between the Central Valley and Bay Area and Los Angeles. The project will also be a job generator and provide environmental benefits with fewer cars on the road, he said.

“I look forward to Diridon Station in San Jose being a huge and essential point for high-speed rail to connect to public transit throughout the Bay Area, and ultimately to connect us to the rest of the state. “, he told San Jose Spotlight.

KRON We are now broadcasting live news

Brian Schmidt, director of policy and advocacy for Green Foothills, said it was about the impact of high-speed rail on the migration of bobcats, mountain lions and elk in the Coyote Valley and Pacheco Pass. Green Foothills wants to see this mitigated with wildlife-friendly crossings.

“These two areas are very important migration corridors,” he said. “Coyote Valley is one of two corridors connecting the relatively isolated Santa Cruz Mountain Range to the rest of the state’s natural habitats.” In keeping with the environment, the high-speed train will share electrified Caltrain tracks. Overhead wiring is already in place at Diridon station, with $800 million of its funding coming through the high-speed rail budget, Diridon said.

Boris Lipkin, regional director for the California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority Northern California, said if federal, state and regional funding is in place, the high-speed rail could be completed between San Francisco and Los Angeles in just a short time. more than 10 years. But getting the funding is the challenge. Lipkin said that in the age of climate change, it’s essential that people use trains powered by renewable energy rather than cars and planes. “Making this a reality is a huge undertaking,” he said. “The scale of this thing is huge…but the benefits are also huge.”

Copyright © 2022 Bay City News, Inc.

Jose P. Rogers