High-Speed Rail: A Sustainable Project

The term sustainability is often defined as the capacity to endure. Sustainability speaks to decision making that considers the impacts of our actions now on future generations. When developing major infrastructure, such as high-speed rail in California, program designers should develop a program that safeguards the capacity of future generations to enjoy a quality life. This is achieved by balancing a variety of factors, including environmental, economic, political and cultural factors to develop a high-speed rail system that will benefit the state of California for decades to come.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) is committed to building a high-speed rail system that minimizes impacts to the natural and built environment, encourages compact land development around transit stations, and helps California manage its pressing issues with climate change, traffic and airport congestion, and energy dependency. The Authority has adopted policies and published a number of documents that confirm our commitment to sustainable development.

2017 Sustainability Report

2016 Sustainability Report

Urban Design Guidelines

The Authority's Urban Design Guidelines is a comprehensive planning guide that provides domestic and international examples of station area design, urban design and transit oriented development. This guide includes simple diagrams which analyze and explain successful public places and how each promotes livability and transit use.

Urban design implemented around high-speed rail stations can encourage destination stations and enhance the value for the surrounding community.

The report is intended to be used by cities and communities throughout the state’s 800-mile system as they work with their stakeholders and residents to create a vision for their high-speed rail station areas.

Sustainable Design Concepts

High speed rail will provide the Central Valley with improved access to the rest of the state, putting the Central Valley's residents only one to two hours away from California's major employment and population centers. This change in the Central Valley's geography of access will in turn impact the course of future development within the region. At the regional scale, the increased accessibility afforded by high speed rail can serve to concentrate development in and around communities that have stations. Such demand can shift the impetus of new growth away from the Central Valley's agricultural land and reorient it towards the established urban centers.

These reports, prepared with the financial support of the Authority, examines the potential for transit-oriented development (TOD) around high speed rail stations in the Central Valley. It focuses on proposed stations sites in the cities of Stockton, Merced, and Fresno, and presents planning approaches and design concepts for land use, urban design, and multimodal access and circulation in and around the proposed HSR station areas.

Vision California

“Vision California” is an unprecedented effort to explore the critical role of land use and transportation investments in meeting the environmental and fiscal challenges facing the Golden State over the coming decades.

This study effort, led by Calthorpe Associates, will produce tools which can evaluate alternative physical visions for how California can accommodate expected growth. The project will model the consequences of varying land use and transportation scenarios and provide robust quantifications of the benefits of a more sustainable, transit-oriented future for California--one that is anchored by a statewide High-Speed Rail network.