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Environmental Reports Released For California High-Speed Rail

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The massive environmental impact reports for the California high-speed rail's first segment--from Merced to Fresno and Fresno to Bakersfield--were released today. The cost of the initial segments was initially estimated at about $7 billion, but it now looks more like $10 billion to $13.9 billion, according to BizJournals. Meanwhile, Fox News just reported that the Obama administration is giving the project an extra $179 million (maybe that'll pay for a park and ride). The California High-Speed Rail Authority says the higher cost for the project is worthwhile because the train will "save more than $100 billion in new or expanded freeways and airport construction over the next 25 years."

Anyway, a few salient points from the EIR, according to the Fresno Bee: about 700 homes, 680 businesses, and 3,450 acres of farmland would need to be displaced for this segment of the bullet train. As far as the route between Merced and Fresno, there're two options: "one along the Union Pacific Railroad tracks near Highway 99 through Merced, Chowchilla and Madera; and one along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks a few miles east of the cities and the freeway. A third option is a hybrid of the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern routes." The 114 mile Fresno to Bakersfield route is down to one option, which would connect those cities' downtowns.

Public comment is now open on the EIRs until Sept. 28. See timeline above for next steps in the process--construction's supposed to start next year.
· Report Details High-Speed Rail's Valley Impact [Fresno Bee]
· California High-Speed Rail [Official Site]
· High-Speed Rail Archives [Curbed LA]