Despite its controversy on the State and Federal levels, a groundbreaking ceremony for the California High-Speed Rail (CA HSR) project will be held Jan. 6 in Fresno to commemorate the beginning of its construction in part by Governor Jerry Brown and the California High Speed Rail Authority.
The project, which originally was put on ballot in 2008 under Proposition 1A, “The Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century” was approved by voters authorizing the California Transportation Commission (CTC), upon appropriation by the State legislature, to allocate funds for capital improvements to various elements relating to the high-speed rail.
Improvements included inter-city and commuter rail lines, as well as urban rail systems that provide direct connectivity to the high-speed train system and its facilities, or those that are part of the construction of the high-speed train system as set forth in Streets and Highways Code, or that provide enhancements to capacity and safety improvements.
The CTC is required to program and allocate net proceeds received from the sale of $950 million in bonds authorized under the Proposition for the High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Program. CA HSR is responsible for planning, designing, building and operation of rail system with the intention of connecting “mega-regions” throughout California.
Though the projected outcomes are widely debated, according to CHSR, the project would contribute to economic development, the creation of around 20,000 jobs annually for five years, a cleaner environment, and the preservation of agricultural and protected lands.
According to CA HSR, by 2029, should it be completed, the system will run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours at speeds over 200 miles per hour. Additionally, the system would eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego, for a projected total span of 800 miles with an estimated 24 stations. Additionally, CA HSR has worked with regional partners to implement a statewide rail modernization plan to invest billions in local and regional rail lines.
It is important to note, however, that though the plan includes a span of 800 miles throughout California by the completion of the project, connections to the high-speed rail system in many major cities would be via Amtrak or Bus.
In Stanislaus County, connections to the San Joaquin Corridor portion of the system, according to the CA HSR Program Revised 2012 Business Plan, would be via the Modesto Area Express (MAX) bus transit service.