CHSRA Issues Sustainability Report

Written by Bill Wilson, Engineering Editor; and Editor-in-Chief, Railway Track & Structures
The California high speed rail project preserved and restored more than 2,300 acres of habitat over the past year, according to a newly released sustainability report.

The California high speed rail project preserved and restored more than 2,300 acres of habitat over the past year, according to a newly released sustainability report.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has released its latest sustainability report, Building an Equitable Future, highlighting the 2020 milestones of the high speed rail project that will connect San Francisco and the Bay Area to Los Angeles and Anaheim.

In the past year, CHSRA received the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s Envision Platinum rating for the high speed project. (Phase I is currently under construction in the Central Valley along 119 miles at 35 construction sites.) The Envision Platinum rating is the highest-level award, and it marks the first time a project of this size and complexity has earned such an honor, according to the CHSRA report (download below).

Among the other key project milestones in 2020:

  • Preserving or restoring more than 2,320 acres of habitat.
  • Planting 7,100 trees.
  • Avoiding 180,000 pounds of criteria air pollutants during construction.
  • Increasing small business participation to more than 600 entities. 
  • Generating between $10 billion and $11.4 billion in total state economic activity.

The sustainability report also outlines the commitments, methodologies, progress and results of the program’s approach to designing, constructing and operating high speed rail; discusses the results of the materiality assessment process performed in 2018; and covers the updated sustainability policy, which was adopted by the Board of Directors in April 2019.

CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly

“We’re committed to delivering the nation’s first truly high-speed rail system in a way that meets California’s climate goals and lifts up underserved communities,” CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly said. “The work being done today will improve the air we breathe and enhance the economic situations of historically disadvantaged regions of the state. This is a system that’s meant to serve all Californians, so it’s important that we consider all communities and invest in a workforce that reflects the diversity of the state.”

“Social equity is a core component of sustainability at the Authority,” said Margaret Cederoth, Director of Sustainability and Planning for CHSRA. “Beyond the environmental benefits, this project will have long-lasting socioeconomic impacts to communities across California. It’s essential that we develop high-speed rail to consciously promote inclusive, equitable growth.”

In related news, the CHSRA Board last month certified the Bakersfield to Palmdale Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) and approved the approximately 80-mile segment of the Phase 1 high speed rail system connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles and Anaheim.

Railway Age Executive Editor Marybeth Luczak contributed to this report.

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