The California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) released a draft 2022 business plan on February 8 covering project progress and areas of opportunity; the 500-mile Phase 1 system from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim is now expected to cost up to $105 billion.
Two years ago, the price of the project was around $100 billion; and in 2008, about $40 billion.
Comments on the draft business plan (download below) are due by April 11.
In the plan, the CHSRA outlined how new funding – from the federal bipartisan infrastructure act and Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed transportation infrastructure package, including the remaining $4.2 billion in bond funds of proposal 1A – will allow it to:
• Deliver “as soon as practicable” an initial two-lane electrified operating segment rather than a single-lane connecting Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield (the 171-mile Central Valley segment).
• “Investing statewide to advance engineering and design work as every section of the project is environmentally cleaned.”
• “Leveraging new federal and state funds for targeted statewide investments that benefit local service providers and advance high-speed rail in California.” This includes an ongoing partnership with Caltrain to electrify its commuter rail corridor between San Francisco and San Jose and working with Union Pacific to expand passenger electrification to Gilroy; first grade separations in the shared corridor from Burbank to Los Angeles where Metrolink and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner services are currently running and high-speed trains will run in the future; and joint funding for a unique new Merced multimodal station where the Altamont Regional Express Corridor and intercity San Joaquins the services will be connected to the high-speed train.
The plan also updates the CHSRA budget and capital cost estimates for the segments with recently approved environmental documents “to take into account numerous mitigation measures to address community concerns.” Among them: scope changes to the Bakersfield section in Palmdale that affected the visual effects of César E. Chávez National Monument/Nuestra Señora Reina de La Paz National Historic Site in Keene; adding improved noise barriers in the town of Tehachapi and restoring waterways and improving safety along the Pacific Crest Trail; and design and mitigation improvements south of Hollywood Burbank Airport to minimize residential and commercial disruption and enable direct air-rail intermodal connectivity to the airport.
High Speed Project Update, Outlook
Of the 500-mile Phase 1 system, 291 miles have been environmentally cleaned, including a contiguous section between Merced and Palmdale, as well as the clearing last month of the Burbank section in Los Angeles, CHSRA reported.
By mid-2022, the authority said it plans to have cleared an additional 131 miles for the environment, with Board action expected on final decision records on the two California sections of the North between San Francisco and Merced. The final two sections of the CHSRA project, Palmdale to Burbank and Los Angeles to Anaheim, are expected to progress in 2023.
Over the past year in the Central Valley, CHSRA reported having substantially completed all major design elements for the 119-mile segment between Madera and Kern counties; established a third-party task force to advance “world-class utility work by resolving outstanding critical issues”; and developed a right-of-way schedule. (See map, left; table below). “We are focused on managing risk, negotiating necessary contract amendments to fully define project scope and setting achievable completion milestones,” CHSRA said.
This month the authority will launch contracts to advance the design of the 33-mile extension north of Madera in Merced, the 19-mile extension south of Poplar Avenue in Bakersfield and the four stations of Central Valley (Merced, Fresno, Kings/Tulare and Bakerfield).