Feds to CA HSR Authority: Let The Track-Laying Begin!

The High Speed Rail Authority received a key approval from the Federal Railroad Administration to begin construction in California's Central Valley, specifically the 60-mile Merced to Fresno stretch. The remaining hurdles are several lawsuits.

September 21, 2012, 8:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


Construction will begin on the 60-mile stretch between Fresno and Merced, known technically as the Initial Construction Segment. It will be funded with $2.6 billion in Prop 1A, 2008 state High Speed Rail (HSR) bonds and $3.2 billion from the federal government, a substantial part of which comes from stimulus funds rejected by the governors of Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida who opposed the high speed rail grants that their predecessors had successfully applied for.

Tim Sheehan of the Fresno Bee reports on the landmark approval.

"Backers of the project hailed the decision as historic for the development of the first high-speed train project in the nation and the start of construction in the central San Joaquin Valley. 'With the federal record of decision, we are now poised to move forward and break ground next year,' said Jeff Morales, the CEO of the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA)..

"But the specter of lawsuits continues to hang over the project. Several have been filed against the rail authority in hopes of stalling or stopping work on the Merced-Fresno section.

The decision comes despite recent pleas from critics asking the federal authority to withhold approval based on concerns over "environmental justice" in the environmental review process, potentially in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act."

Also writing on the approval is Juliet Williams of the Associated Press who reports that the plan is now in compliance with "dozens of federal regulations, including the:

  • Endangered Species Act
  • Fish and Wildlife regulations
  • National Historic Preservation Act"

Many of the lawsuits are coming from Central Valley farmers who oppose the project.

"We're not seeking necessarily to stop the project entirely, but we do think the project should be stopped until some of these environmental issues, and their severity, are addressed," said Anja Raudabaugh, executive director of the Madera County Farm Bureau.

Thanks to Streetsblog San Francisco

Thursday, September 20, 2012 in The Sacramento Bee

The New York Public Library's stone lions Patience and Fortitude have donned face masks to remind New Yorkers to wear face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Top Urban Planning Books of 2021

Planetizen's annual list of the top urban planning books of the year is here—maintaining a tradition that dates back to 2002.

November 26, 2021 - James Brasuell

Empty Road

The Roadway Expansion Paradox

Motorists want expensive roadway expansions provided that somebody else foots the bill, but when required to pay directly through tolls, the need for more capacity often disappears. What should planners do?

November 28, 2021 - Todd Litman

Moving

Urban Exodus: Data Don't Support the Popular Pandemic Narrative

Americans fled cities in waves during the pandemic, right? Not to so fast.

November 30, 2021 - Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

Main Street

Inequality Grows in Western Zoom Towns

As demand for housing grows, small Western towns are experiencing skyrocketing housing costs and rising displacement.

December 3 - High Country News

A Metro Los Angeles bus driver is behind the wheel while wearing a mask.

Equity and Transit Go Hand in Hand for the Pandemic Recovery

Equity illuminates the light at the end of the tunnel for U.S. transit agencies, according to a recent report by the Urban Institute.

December 3 - Urban Institute

South Beach Open Streets

Miami Reinstates E-Scooter Program

After abruptly ending its shared e-scooter program last month, Miami is letting the devices return to its streets–with some new rules.

December 3 - Smart Cities Dive

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.