The California High-Speed Rail Authority hopes to start construction in the next few years on an LA County bullet train section that could connect Palmdale and Burbank in a 14-to-16-minute ride, reports the LA Times. The plan all along was to build in the flat, under-populated Central Valley first—a move that some people called ridiculous, since the CHSRA doesn't yet have near the $68 billion it needs to build the entire SF to LA line—but now the authority hopes to build the Palmdale-Burbank section somewhat concurrently with the Central Valley section (a portion of the line from Madera to Fresno is supposed to start work this summer, but isn't it always). There is still uncertainty over the exact route the train would take between the two cities; the authority is considering a request from LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich to tunnel 15 miles under Soledad Pass. Bullet train officials are also looking at how to get to Union Station; one possibility is eight miles of tunnels leading to Downtown, but construction on the section to central LA won't happen for years, if not next decade.
The authority has a bit of wind in its sails now that the legislature is providing a steady stream of income from cap-and-trade funds. As part of that legislation, some lawmakers pushed for more immediate benefits for commuters and reductions in greenhouse gases, so the CHSRA's SoCal push may be related, posits the Times. Southern California has also shown no organized opposition to the train, as opposed to Central Valley farmers and Silicon Valley NIMBYs, who've tossed a molotov cocktail of lawsuits—some successful—at the project.
· Burbank-Palmdale segment added to bullet train timetable [LAT]
· Will California Bullet Train Start Work Soon Or Is It Totally F'd? [Curbed LA]