NEWS RELEASE: $3 Million Grant Awarded to Study Pacheco Pass Wildlife Overcrossing Near Future High-Speed Rail Line
April 19, 2022
SAN JOSE, Calif. – The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) and the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency, along with partners from Caltrans, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and Pathways for Wildlife, are applauding the award of a $3.125 million grant to continue efforts to protect wildlife movement in Northern California. The California Wildlife Conservation Board grant will fund the planning, design, environmental review and permitting of a proposed wildlife overcrossing spanning State Route 152, near the San Jose to Merced high-speed rail project section.
“This grant aligns with the Authority’s planning efforts to increase wildlife connectivity in the San Jose to Merced project section,” said Northern California Regional Director Boris Lipkin. “The award reflects the wide range of support and collaboration we’ve had with key partners focused on protecting sensitive habitats, preserving wildlife movement, and enhancing the natural environment in the project area.”
In sensitive wildlife areas along the planned high-speed rail corridor, such as Coyote Valley, Pacheco Pass and the Grasslands Ecological Area, the Authority has incorporated project elements to allow for wildlife movement – and, in many cases, improvements on current conditions.
“Without this being a team effort sitting at the table to develop a shared solution, I don’t think this outcome would have come to pass,” said Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency Executive Officer Edmund Sullivan.
The grant will support four years to advance planning and environmental review for the proposed overcrossing, which includes conducting a habitat modeling analysis, completing a feasibility study, preparing a project initiation report under Caltrans’ oversight and advancing the project to 65% design. With additional funding, the Habitat Agency would also oversee the preparation of an environmental document under the California Environmental Quality Act that will evaluate at least two build alternatives.
Pathways for Wildlife has worked with the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency for the past three years conducting a wildlife connectivity study along SR-152 in the Pacheco Pass and within the Habitat Agency’s property, the Pacheco Creek Reserve.
“By collectively working on this project together, we will not just improve the safety of both wildlife and drivers along the highway but also ensure the long-term genetic health for species such as mountain lions and badgers by improving the ability for wildlife movement through this critical wildlife linkage,” said Pathways for Wildlife Co-Principal Tanya Diamond.
The Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency has a major role in implementing the Habitat Plan, which was developed by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Agency, Santa Clara Valley Water District, County of Santa Clara, and the Cities of Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Jose. The Habitat Plan provides streamlined state and federal permitting for public and private projects, while offering a comprehensive and effective way to address impacts of those projects on endangered and threatened species and their habitats. For more information about the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency please visit: www.scv-habitatagency.org.
Environmental approval of the Authority’s San Jose to Merced project section through the Pacheco Pass will be considered at the Authority’s Board Meeting on April 27 and 28, 2022.
California High-Speed Rail is under construction along 119 miles with more than 35 active job sites. To date, more than 7,500 construction jobs have been created since the start of construction.
For more on progress of the nation’s first high-speed rail system visit: www.buildhsr.com
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