A $3.125 million California Wildlife Conservation Board grant will fund the planning, design, environmental review and permitting of a proposed wildlife overcrossing spanning State Route 152, near the San Jose to Merced high-speed rail project section, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) reported on April 19.
The grant will support conducting a habitat modeling analysis, completing a feasibility study, preparing a project initiation report and advancing the project to 65% design—all within four years.
CHSRA and the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency are participating in the Pacheco Pass wildlife-overcrossing project in Northern California, along with partners from Caltrans, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and Pathways for Wildlife.
With additional funding, the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency would also oversee the preparation of an environmental document under the California Environmental Quality Act that would evaluate at least two build alternatives, according to CHSRA.
“The award reflects the wide range of support and collaboration we’ve had with key partners focused on protecting sensitive habitats, preserving wildlife movement, and enhancing the natural environment in the [San Jose to Merced] project area,” CHSRA Northern California Regional Director Boris Lipkin said.
“By … working on this project together, we will not just improve the safety of both wildlife and drivers along the highway, but also ensure the long-term genetic health for species such as mountain lions and badgers by improving the ability for wildlife movement through this critical wildlife linkage,” Pathways for Wildlife Co-Principal Tanya Diamond said.
Environmental approval of CHSRA’s San Jose to Merced Project Section through the Pacheco Pass will be considered at its April 27-28 Board meeting. The Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the approximately 90-mile extent of the 145-mile project section was submitted to the Board on Feb. 25.
In related developments, CHSRA on Jan. 20 certified the Burbank to Los Angeles Final EIR/EIS.