CHSRA releases EIS for 49-mile high-speed rail project

Written by Andrew Corselli, Managing Editor of Railway Age
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The FRA and California have resolved their legal dispute.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) is releasing its second project-level Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the 49-mile project that would provide service between the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco and the San Jose Diridon Station. The document for the Northern California project section will be available for public comment starting Friday, July 10.

The San Francisco to San Jose Project Section would provide the public with an electric-powered high-speed rail service that aims to provide predictable and consistent travel times between major urban centers and connectivity to airports, mass transit systems and the highway network stretching from San Francisco to San Jose. It would also help connect the northern and southern portions of the statewide high-speed rail system.

Initially, high-speed trains would stop at the 4th and King Street Station in San Francisco (an interim high-speed rail station), and once the Transbay Joint Powers Authority completes its Downtown Extension Project, high-speed trains would reach the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco. The plan to share the tracks for both Caltrain and state high-speed rail systems is referred to as the Blended System. High-speed rail is providing $714 million to support Caltrain’s Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project that is upgrading the corridor, modernizing the existing commuter rail service and will allow high-speed rail service to San Francisco.

The Draft EIR/EIS evaluates the impacts and benefits of the No Project Alternative and two project alternatives (Alternative A and Alternative B). Each alternative includes high-speed rail stations in San Francisco, Millbrae and San Jose, with a light maintenance facility on either the east or west side of Brisbane. Each of these stations is a significant intermodal hub that will provide links to regional and local mass transit systems.

With the release of this San Francisco to San Jose Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), CHSRA remains on track to complete environmental clearance for the full Phase 1 system by the federally mandated 2022 deadline. From Friday, July 10 through Monday, Aug. 24, the San Francisco to San Jose Project Section Draft EIR/EIS is available for review and public comment.

In conjunction with the public review period for the document, CHSRA will hold a public hearing to take public comment. Comments received regarding environmental issues will be reviewed and responded to as required by law. The Final EIR/EIS document for San Francisco to San Jose will be issued in 2021. Due to public health and safety requirements concerning COVID-19, the community open houses and/or the public hearing for the Draft EIR/EIS may need to occur online and/or as teleconference meetings only. Please check CHSRA’s website for more information, including up-to-date information on the planned hearing and open houses.

The public hearing is scheduled on:

Aug. 19, 2020, 3 p.m.–8 p.m.; Bay Area Metro Center; 375 Beale Street; Yerba Buena Room; San Francisco, CA, 94105

Open houses are scheduled on:

San Francisco Open House Meeting

July 20, 2020; 4 p.m.-7 p.m.; Bay Area Metro Center; 375 Beale Street; Yerba Buena Room; San Francisco, CA, 94105

Redwood City Open House Meeting

July 30, 2020; 4 p.m.-7 p.m.; American Legion Post 105; 651 El Camino Real; Redwood City, CA 94063

Santa Clara Open House Meeting

Aug. 5, 2020; 4 p.m.-7 p.m.; Santa Clara Marriott, 2700 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95054

“I applaud the California High-Speed Rail Authority for reaching this important milestone,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “The release of the draft environmental document for the San Francisco to San Jose project section takes us one step closer to bringing high-speed rail to San Francisco and the Salesforce Transit Center. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Authority as it works to provide Californians with a sustainable transportation alternative that will connect economies throughout the state like never before.”

“This release is part of the environmental clearance for the entire San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim high-speed rail project,” said Authority CEO Brian Kelly. “The project is the largest in the United States. It’s the fifth draft environmental impact document we’ve released since September of 2019, representing substantial progress on this transformational project. We look forward to hearing from residents and stakeholders in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties as we work to build a clean, fast and safe transportation network for Californians.”

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