California High-Speed Rail Releases Final Environmental Studies to Connect Silicon Valley and Central Valley

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) on Feb. 25 released the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIR/EIS) for the approximately 90-mile San Jose to Merced Project Section in Northern California.

The Authority’s Board of Directors will consider the final document for approval during its two-day board meeting on April 20 and 21, in conjunction with the proposed approval of the preferred alternative alignment. If approved, this project section will move closer to being “shovel ready” for when preconstruction and construction funding becomes available.

“This environmental document is the culmination of years of analysis and stakeholder engagement and an important milestone in advancing high-speed rail between Silicon Valley and the Central Valley,” said Authority CEO Brian Kelly. “Connecting these two major economic regions will change the way people travel throughout the state and foster more equitable employment and housing opportunities. We remain committed to environmentally clearing all 500 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles and Anaheim and advancing design statewide.”

In the San Jose to Merced Project Section, high-speed trains will travel through or near the cities of Santa Clara, San Jose, Morgan Hill, Gilroy and Los Banos, connecting Silicon Valley and the Central Valley. The proposed preferred alternative alignment would include upgrading existing rail lines between San Jose and Gilroy and constructing a new high-speed rail alignment with more than 15 miles of tunnels through Pacheco Pass in the Diablo Range.

By reducing travel times and integrating the high-speed rail system with other modes of transportation, this section of the statewide high-speed rail system will tie California’s regions together through public rail and transit. The proposed preferred alternative for the San Jose to Merced Project Section includes high-speed rail stations at San Jose Diridon Station and in downtown Gilroy, offering links with regional and local mass transit. The proposed preferred alternative will modernize and electrify the existing rail corridor from San Jose to Gilroy, allowing for both high-speed rail and electrified Caltrain service to South San Jose and Southern Santa Clara County.

The Authority serves as the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The Draft EIR/EIS was circulated for public review from April 24 to June 23, 2020, and a Revised/Supplemental Draft EIR/EIS focused on specific biological resources issues was circulated for public review from April 23 to June 9, 2021. The Authority has considered all comments received during the public review periods and responses to the comments are documented in the Final EIR/EIS. The document includes:

  • An analysis of alternatives, including impacts and effects
  • Mitigation measures proposed to reduce environmental impacts and effects
  • Public comments received on the Draft EIR/EIS and Revised/Supplemental Draft EIR/EIS and responses to comments
  • Revisions to the Draft EIR/EIS made in response to comments.

The Final EIR/EIS can be found on the Authority’s website, hsr.ca.gov.

Printed and/or electronic copies of the San Jose to Merced Final EIR/EIS, along with electronic copies of the previously published environmental documents are also available for review during business hours at the Authority’s office at 770 L Street, Suite 620 MS-1, Sacramento; and by appointment at the Authority’s Northern California Regional Office at 100 Paseo de San Antonio, Suite 300, San Jose. To make an appointment to view the documents, please call 1-800-455-8166.

The Authority has previously cleared four project sections of the high-speed rail project prior to issuing this San Jose to Merced project section environmental document. Last fall, the Authority approved the Bakersfield to Palmdale project section, and in January, the Authority completed its CEQA approval for the Burbank to Los Angeles project section. Prior to these approvals, the Authority approved the Fresno to Bakersfield project section and the Merced to Fresno project section.

California High-Speed Rail is currently under construction along 119 miles in California’s Central Valley at 35 active job sites. To date, nearly 7,500 construction jobs have been created since the start of construction.

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