The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors Thursday approved the Final Environmental Impact Report/ Environmental Impact Statement for the approximately 80-mile Bakersfield to Palmdale project alignment section.
The action paves the way for full California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) clearance of nearly 300 miles of the high-speed rail project’s 500-mile Phase 1 alignment from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim. The Board’s actions mark the first CEQA certification of an environmental document in the Southern California region.
“Today’s approval represents another major milestone for this project as we move the project into Los Angeles County,” said CEO Brian Kelly. “We appreciate the collaboration with our local and regional partners as we work to build a clean, electrified high-speed rail system that will connect our state for generations to come.”
The Board’s certification of the Bakersfield to Palmdale Final EIR/EIS and approval of the Project Section allows the Authority to begin preconstruction work as funding becomes available. The section provides a north-south high-speed rail connection between the Central Valley and the Antelope Valley in northern Los Angeles County, closing the passenger rail gap that currently exists between the two regions. The section is designed to accommodate a connection with the Brightline West high-speed rail project to Las Vegas.
But wildlife advocates said transportation options like high-speed rail shouldn’t come at the expense of sensitive species of animals and plants.
“The bullet train will slice through an area that’s critical to statewide wildlife connectivity, but the authority is refusing to incorporate adequate wildlife crossings to limit harm to mountain lions and the region’s incredible biodiversity. California’s wildlife deserves better,” said Tiffany Yap, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “
The Final EIR/EIS can be found on the Authority’s website at: https://hsr.ca.gov/programs/environmental-planning/project-section-environmental-documents-tier-2/bakersfield-to-palmdale-draft-environmental-impact-report-environmental-impact-statement/.
The high-speed rail project is currently under active construction in the Central Valley along 119 miles at 35 different construction sites with an average of 1,100 workers daily. For more on construction progress visit www.buildhsr.com.