Second California High-Speed Rail Segment Waiting To Be Cleared

Written by Bill Wilson, Engineering Editor; and Editor-in-Chief, Railway Track & Structures
The California High Speed Rail Authority will get the chance to approve the Burbank-to-Los Angeles preferred alternative in January. (CHSRA)

The California High Speed Rail Authority will get the chance to approve the Burbank-to-Los Angeles preferred alternative in January. (CHSRA)

The California High-Speed Rail Authority released the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIR/EIS) for the approximately 14-mile Burbank-to-Los Angeles Project Section in southern California, moving CHSRA one step closer to approving its fourth environmental document in two years.

The document will be presented to the CHSRA’s Board of Directors for consideration during a two-day board meeting Jan. 19 and 20, in conjunction with considering approval of the Burbank-to-Los Angeles Project Section preferred alternative.

If approved, the Burbank-to-Los Angeles Project Section will be the second high-speed rail segment in southern California to be environmentally cleared, and it will be the first in the Los Angeles Basin. This milestone moves the project section closer to being “shovel ready” for when preconstruction and construction funding become available.

CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly

“Today’s [Nov. 5] release of the environmental document underscores the statewide nature of this project,” CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly said. “While we advance construction in the Central Valley, we continue our march to environmentally clear all 500 miles between San Francisco and the Los Angeles/Anaheim area. This Los Angeles rail corridor will connect the Hollywood Burbank Airport and Los Angeles Union Station—two key multimodal transportation hubs—providing future passengers clean, electrified high-speed rail infrastructure that will deliver sustainable, reliable and accessible transportation for generations to come.”

In May 2020, CHSRA released the Draft EIR/EIS for public review. CHSRA serves as lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It has since responded to comments received during the public review period, and these responses are documented in the Final EIR/EIS.

The proposed HSR Build Alternative in the Burbank-to-Los Angeles Project Section will use existing railroad right-of-way adjacent to the Los Angeles River, through the cities of Burbank, Glendale and Los Angeles, and will decrease rail congestion and increase mobility in the corridor, according to CHSRA.

In related news, CHSRA in August certified the Bakersfield to Palmdale Final 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.

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