Progress on California’s High Speed ​​Rail – Streetsblog California

Is California High Speed ​​Rail Happening? Yes. But there was so much misleading denial of the value of the projectin the media and elsewhere, that unless you live in the central valley, you might not even realize that this is the biggest construction project going on in the state, maybe even in the country.

Perhaps attention to the project is turning a corner. For example, KQED recently published a detailed article updating the significant construction progress of the project and the benefits it is already bringing to cities in the Central Valley. – although even this outlet felt the need to marble its message with a heavy dose of skepticism.

Additionally, Jon Switalski just welcomed Brian Kelly, Executive Director of the California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority (CAHSRA), the the Rebuilding the SoCal Zone podcast. They talk about the current status of the project and how it got to this stage. For reference, this is 119 miles under construction in the Central Valley and environmental clearance completed for about 300 miles of the total over 400 miles, with other segments to be cleared this summer and in the coming years. .

Of course, funding is a big part of the discussion, as it should be with any project of this magnitude. Estimates for the cost of the project have doubled from the first estimate of $45 billion – made before any design or environmental or right-of-way work was done, around the time voters approved a obligation of 9 billion dollars to start the project.

“Given the cost, we have to do it in chunks,” says Kelly. “That’s how you have to make big plans.” The full cost estimate is not out of step with other high-speed rail projects being built around the world, he added, saying England is building a system that will cost around $110 billion.

Kelly also points out that building an equal amount of travel capacity via highway and airport expansion would cost twice as much – and bring none of the clean energy or environmental benefits associated with high-speed electrified rail. .

“It’s a good deal though,” he said.

Merced’s first segment in Bakersfield is scheduled to be completed by 2030. This first operating segment would serve several major cities and provide connections to other cities at both ends. Meanwhile, the other segments obtain environmental clearance, to be followed by design, community outreach and construction.

“We’ll go segment by segment until it’s done,” Kelly said. ” That will take time. It will cost money.

“But once Californians get a chance to experience it, I’m sure the conversation won’t be about how hard it is to do it. It’s going to be about how we lived without it.

Listen to the Rebuild SoCal Zone Podcast – it’s about half an hour – on their website.

Jose P. Rogers