High-Speed Rail Construction Progress Continues in the Central Valley, in Southern California
Southern California Updates
While high-speed rail construction progress continues in the Central Valley, in Southern California progress on completing the project’s environmental documents is also moving forward.
Since late 2019, the Authority has made steady progress in advancing environmental work, with the goal of having the entire system between Los Angeles/Anaheim to San Francisco fully cleared by the end of 2022.
As part of that clearance process, the Southern California segment has been divided into four smaller sections: Bakersfield to Palmdale, Palmdale to Burbank, Burbank to Los Angeles, and Los Angeles to Anaheim.
For the Bakersfield to Palmdale project section, the public review period for the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) closed on April 28. The high-speed rail Authority is now reviewing comments received from the public and will respond to those comments in a final EIR/EIS issued in 2021.
Given the restrictions placed on public gatherings and meetings with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Authority has refocused outreach efforts to digital, virtual, telephone and traditional mail outreach efforts.
For the Burbank to Los Angeles project section, numerous online public meetings have been held for the Draft EIR/EIS, which was released on May 29 and followed by two public comment extension periods (extending the total public comment for the section to 94 days). This period ends on August 31.
During this extension, Authority staff has continued to conduct outreach, offering online Authority-staffed office hours, telephone town halls and virtual meetings. While an August 19 Telephone Townhall reached more than 3,100 residents to answer questions and inform them on the environmental process, an August 25 online grade separation meeting provided further information about the program, with a focus on a proposed Main Street Grade Separation. Held at the request of local legislative representatives, extensive outreach was performed to ensure residents were aware of the opportunity to participate. Details are available at www.meethsrsocal.org.
For the Los Angeles to Anaheim project section, a revised Scoping Period began August 25. This will allow the Authority to make changes in the original environmental documents to include work that needs to take place to accommodate future growth in the project corridor.
The Los Angeles-Anaheim high-speed train corridor will travel along the BNSF-owned rail corridor between Los Angeles and Fullerton, which serves BNSF’s Hobart and Commerce Intermodal Facilities. In order to accommodate high speed rail service in the future, as well as provide for growth of existing passenger rail services, it is necessary to relocate a portion of freight rail service away from the Los Angeles to Fullerton corridor. This will be accomplished with the construction of new freight facilities in San Bernardino County, to support freight operations in Southern California.
The facilities are proposed to be located in Colton and in the Barstow area. The Colton Intermodal Facility will process some of the freight trains that were destined for the Los Angeles to Fullerton corridor to allow for continued efficient movement of freight in the region. The Lenwood Staging tracks will serve as a holding area for some of the freight trains destined for the Los Angeles to Fullerton corridor, until there is room in the corridor to accommodate them.
Virtual scoping meetings are being scheduled for September, so the public will have a chance to learn more about these changes. Details will be posted at www.meethsrsocal.org