Final Environmental Impact Report/Statement: Merced to Fresno

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) has prepared the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIR/EIS) for the Merced to Fresno section of the High-Speed Train (HST) project. The Final EIR/EIS has been made available to the public and public agencies pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Authority is the project’s lead agency under CEQA. The FRA is the project’s lead agency under NEPA. 

The Authority’s Board of Directors certified the Final EIR/EIS under CEQA on May 3, 2012, at the Fresno Convention Center.  The Board also approved the Hybrid Alternative for the north/south alignment of the high-speed train and the Downtown Merced and Downtown Fresno Mariposa Street station locations, adopted CEQA findings of fact and a statement of overriding considerations, and adopted a mitigation monitoring and reporting program. 

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Record of Decision (ROD) under NEPA on September 18, 2012. Through the Record of Decision, the FRA approved the Hybrid Alternative and Downtown Merced and Downtown Fresno Mariposa Street station locations, consistent with the Authority’s decision in May.

The Final EIR/EIS for the Merced to Fresno section includes the following:

  • Volume I - Report
  • Volume II - Technical Appendices
  • Volume III - Alignment Plans
  • Volume IV - Comments on the Draft EIR/EIS and Responses to Comments

The purpose of environmental documents is to disclose information to decision makers and the public. While the science and analysis that supports this Final EIR/EIS is complex, this document is intended for the general public. Every attempt has been made to limit technical terms and the use of acronyms. Where this cannot be avoided, the terms and acronyms are defined the first time they are used, and a list of acronyms and abbreviations is provided in Chapter 14 of this document.

For a reader with only a short time to devote to this document, the Highlights is the place to start. For more detail than the Highlights, the Executive Summary is also available. The Summary provides an overview of all of the substantive chapters and includes a table listing the potential environmental impacts for each environmental resource topic and directs the reader where to get details elsewhere in the document. We have also provided a brief explanation of each chapter (see left) in the Final EIR/EIS.

View the Merced to Fresno Draft EIR/EIS

Final Environmental Impact Report/Statement:  Merced to Fresno

The following documents are available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, which require Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have a copy of this free software, you can download it from Adobe at If you already have a copy of this software, simply click on the links and it will open up automatically.  Note: many of these files are very large and could take up to several minutes to download.

In addition to posting of the electronic version of the Final EIR/EIS on this website, printed copies are provided at main or branch public libraries, community centers, and churches in the following cities: Fresno, Madera, Chowchilla, Merced, Le Grand, Los Banos, Atwater, and at the California High-Speed Rail Authority office in Sacramento. You may also request a CD-ROM of the Merced to Fresno Final EIR/EIS by calling (916) 324-1541.

Approval Documents
Addendum and Errata
Educational Materials
Volume I – Report
Volume II - Technical Appendices
Volume III - Alignment Plans (Please Note: Large Files)
Volume IV - Comments and Responses
Technical Reports
Checkpoint A
Checkpoint B
Checkpoint C
Brief Explanation of Each Chapter

Volume I - Report

Chapter 1.0, Project Purpose, Need, and Objectives explains why the project is proposed and provides a history of the planning process.

Chapter 2.0, Alternatives, describes the proposed Merced to Fresno section alternatives and design options, HST station options, and heavy maintenance facility options, as well as the No Project Alternative used for purposes of comparison. It contains illustrations and maps and provides a review of construction activities. These first two chapters help the reader understand what is being analyzed in the remainder of the document

Chapter 3.0, Affected Environment, Environmental Consequences, and Mitigation Measures is where the reader can find information about the existing transportation, environmental, and social conditions in the area of the proposed project, and the potential for the proposed HSR project alternatives to adversely impact those conditions, along with methods to reduce these impacts (called mitigation measures).

Chapter 4.0, Section 4(f)/Section 6(f) Evaluation summarizes parks, and historic properties in accordance with Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 and Section 6(f) of the Land and Water Conservation Funds Act. It describes avoidance alternatives and measures to minimize harm to these resources.

Chapter 5.0, Project Costs and Operations, summarizes the estimated capital and operations and maintenance costs for each Merced to Fresno section alternative evaluated in the Project EIR/EIS, including funding and financial risk.

Chapter 6.0, CEQA/NEPA Decision Process and Other Considerations, summarizes the project’s significant adverse environmental effects, including those that cannot be avoided if the project is implemented.  It also summarizes the significant irreversible environmental changes that would occur as a result of the project or irretrievable commitments of resources or foreclosure of future options.

Chapter 7.0, Preferred Alternative and Stations, identifies the preferred HST alternative for the Merced to Fresno section.

Chapter 8.0, Public and Agency Involvement, contains summaries of coordination and outreach activities, with agencies and the general public.

Chapter 9.0, EIR/EIS Distribution identifies individuals and organizations informed of the availability of the Final EIR/EIS.

Chapter 10.0, List of Preparers provides the names and responsibilities of the authors of the Final EIR/EIS.

Chapter 11.0, References/Sources Used in Document Preparation, cites the references and contacts used in writing this document.

Chapter 12.0, Glossary of Terms, provides a definition of certain terms used in the Final EIR/EIS

Chapter 13.0, Index, provides a tool to cross-reference major topics used in the Final EIR/EIS.

Chapter 14.0, Acronyms and Abbreviations, defines the acronyms and abbreviations used in this document.

Volume II – Technical Appendices

These appendices provide additional technical information that supports the analysis and conclusions in Volume I of the Final EIR/EIS.

Volume III – Alignment Plans

These are the engineering plans that detail the routes of the three alternatives: UPRR/SR 99 Alternative, BNSF Alternative, and Hybrid Alternative. Volume III also includes the station plans.

Volume IV – Comments on the Draft EIR/EIS and Responses to Comments 

Volume IV includes all comments received on the Draft EIR/EIS and the responses to those comments.