CHSRA Board Greenlights Burbank-Los Angeles SectionWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) on Jan. 20 certified the Burbank to Los Angeles Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), approving the approximately 14-mile section of the 500-mile Phase 1 high speed rail alignment connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim.
The Final EIR/EIS was released in November and presented to the Board during meetings on Jan. 19-20.
Following the Final EIR/EIS’s HSR Build Alternative, the Burbank-Los Angeles section will use existing Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority-owned right-of-way adjacent to the Los Angeles River, through the cities of Burbank, Glendale and Los Angeles (see map below).
The section will connect the high speed rail system from a new Hollywood Burbank Airport Station to the existing Los Angeles Union Station, providing an additional link between downtown Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
CHSRA said the next steps under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) “include filing a CEQA Notice of Determination and issuing a Record of Decision consistent with NEPA requirements”—moving the project closer to “shovel ready” as funding becomes available.
“Today’s [Jan. 20] approval represents a historic milestone and brings us closer to providing the first high-speed rail system in the United States,” CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly said. “We appreciate the continued support and collaboration with local and regional agencies and stakeholders as we work together to improve transportation in California.”
CHSRA said it is committed to completing the environmental process for Phase 1 by 2023. The Board’s approval of the Burbank-Los Angeles section paves the way for full CEQA clearance of nearly 300 miles of the 500-mile Phase 1 alignment.
The Board in August 2021 certified the Bakersfield to Palmdale Final EIR/EIS, approving the approximately 80-mile segment. In September 2020, it approved the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for the 50-mile Central Valley Wye portion of the Merced to Fresno line. “That action, along with the 2018 issuance of the Record of Decision for the final ‘Locally Generated Alternative,’ a 23-mile route between Shafter and Bakersfield in the Central Valley, provided for full environmental clearance for 171 miles of the high speed rail alignment between Merced and Bakersfield,” according to CHSRA.
The Board is expected to consider the final environmental documents for the San Jose to Merced and the San Francisco to San Jose project sections in April and June 2022, CHSRA reported.