Draft 2020 Business Plan Out Now, Public Comment Period Open
The Authority recently released the Draft 2020 Business Plan that takes a closer look at the project’s challenges and outlines a path forward as we continue to put Californians to work bringing high-speed rail closer to reality in our state.
This plan outlines how this program will advance to meet California’s mobility, environmental and economic objectives,” said Authority CEO Brian Kelly. “We are in an exciting time for this project and the electrification of transportation in California. In 2020, there will be 350 miles of electrified high-speed rail in development. In the next 18 to 24 months, we will work to environmentally clear the full Phase 1 system between San Francisco and Los Angeles/Anaheim. This transformation is well underway in California. Now is not the time to turn back,” Kelly said.
The draft business plan proposes continued investments that build California’s infrastructure, linked over time, to provide the greatest amount of mobility, economic and environmental benefits to Californians and initiate high-speed rail service as soon as possible. The Draft 2020 Business Plan identifies the following priorities:
- Complete the 119-mile Central Valley construction segment and lay track pursuant to our federal funding grant agreements with the Federal Railroad Administration;
- Expand the 119-mile Central Valley segment to 171 miles of operable electrified high-speed rail connecting Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield, three of the fastest growing areas in California;
- Commence testing of electrified high-speed trains by 2025 and put those trains in service by 2028-29;
- Environmentally clear all segments of the Phase 1 system between San Francisco and Los Angeles/Anaheim in the next 18-24 months;
- Complete the “bookend” projects we have committed funding to in Los Angeles and the Bay Area—projects valued at more than $3 billion;
- Pursue additional funding opportunities to prospectively “close the gaps” and expand electrified high-speed rail service to the Bay Area and Los Angeles/Anaheim.
The Authority is now seeking public comment as part of a 60-day public comment period that closes April 12. At the Authority’s Board of Directors meeting on February 18, we received more than 35 comments from supporters of the plan. Comments can be submitted via online form on our website,email at DraftBP2020@hsr.ca.gov, US mail to the Authority, voicemail comment at (916) 384-9516, or in person at an upcoming Board of Directors Meeting being held on March 17 in Los Angeles.
Our next Board meeting is scheduled for March 17 in Los Angeles, and we have environmental progress to report that will occur between now and then. Also, in this month’s CEO Report, get an update on Diridon Integrated Station Concept (DISC) planning in San Jose and funding for the Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS) project.
Costa Unveils Legislation to Fund HSR and Rail Projects
Congressman Jim Costa recently unveiled the High-Speed Rail Corridor Development Act, legislation that would provide $32 billion to fund projects in federally designated high-speed rail corridors. The bill would directly assist in funding to complete California’s High-Speed Rail project connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles via the San Joaquin Valley. On February 21, Costa held a press conference at high-speed rail’s San Joaquin River Viaduct construction site to unveil the bill.
Proud to be a Part of High-Speed Rail
High-speed rail is bringing California together, connecting our regions in a new and transformative way. The system is being built by proud parents, proud tradespeople, proud members of the community and people proud to be part of this project that will change transportation in our state. Hear why being part of this project means so much to these proud Californians, then check out the latest in construction activity in the new Construction Update.
Investing in California Small Businesses
The latest version of the Investing in California Small Businesses newsletter is out now. Love is in the air during the month of February, and this issue features a couple that works together. In honor of Black History Month, we highlight two African-American women who play a major role in the small business arena.
Check out the newsletter at https://www.buildhsr.com/flipbook/vol_08_issue_01/.
Talking High-Speed Rail
The Made in California podcast recently hit the road to talk transportation and high-speed rail. Host Aneesh Raman spoke with Egon Terplan, senior advisor to Governor Newsom, Authority Board Chairman Lenny Mendonca, Authority CEO Brian Kelly and Authority Chief of External Affairs Melissa Figueroa. Listen now on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/user-926344289/made-in-california-lets-talk-transportation.
Northern California Regional Update
NorCal Team Prepares for the Release of Draft Environmental Document
The Northern California team for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) is poised to embark on its next significant milestone: The release of the Draft EIR/EIS Documents for the San Francisco-San Jose and San Jose-Merced Project Sections.
Late last year, the Authority team completed the administrative drafts for both project sections and submitted them to the Authority’s cooperating agencies for review. The administrative draft represents the first complete draft of the environmental documents. After receiving and addressing comments from the cooperating agencies, the Draft EIR/EIS for each project section will be finalized and released for public review later this spring.
The release of each document will be preceded and followed by a robust public outreach period during the designated 45-day comment period. The focus of the outreach will be to let interested organizations, agencies, and members of the public know that the documents are available for review, how to find information in the documents, and how to provide comments.
Once each of the documents are made public, the Authority will hold three open houses and conduct a public hearing in each of the two project sections to discuss the documents and seek feedback. After the close of the 45-day comment period, the Authority will work over the next year to respond to each comment in writing and to make any necessary adjustments in the EIR/EIS.
Authority Leadership Join Representative from Morgan Hill and Gilroy on Walking Tour
In keeping with the longstanding commitment to collaborate closely with local agencies and civic leaders in Northern California, Authority CEO Brian Kelly, Board Member Henry Perea, and Northern California Regional Director Boris Lipkin recently engaged in a daylong South Santa Clara County visit with the cities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill.
The day began in Gilroy, where Authority leaders met with Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco and City Administrator Gabe Gonzalez prior to visiting the Gilroy Caltrain Station that will serve as a regional and statewide hub for passenger rail service in the future.
Next, Kelly, Perea, and Lipkin traveled to the neighboring community of Morgan Hill, where they met with Mayor Rich Constantine, City Manager Christina Turner, and Community Development Director Edith Ramirez. They discussed plans to modernize and electrify the existing rail corridor south of San Jose, through Morgan Hill, to Gilroy. The group was later joined by Councilmember Rene Springs, Morgan Hill Unified School District Superintendent Steve Betando, and a local community leader for a walking tour of the Morgan Hill Caltrain Station and nearby downtown.
“These meetings are invaluable,” Lipkin said. “Bringing our leadership to engage directly with communities and leaders in South Santa Clara County helps make sure that this region is heard and that they get to see where the system will run directly.”
Northern California Team Hosts Reddit AMA Forum
Boris Lipkin, Northern California Regional Director, hosted an online conversation with the public on Reddit – a social media news aggregation website (and the 6th most visited website in the U.S.).
With 19.7 million followers, Reddit’s subreddit/community called “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) is an active live online forum where users can ask questions to the interviewee(s). Historically, Reddit AMA interviewees have ranged from celebrities to subject-matter experts. Transportation and high-speed rail are popular topics in the Reddit community; high-speed rail has 2,300 followers.
December’s Reddit AMA with Lipkin was a great success. The live online forum received 280 comments, 93 percent of which received Upvotes – a mechanism for Reddit users to signal their approval or support for a post. This is just one example of the Authority embracing agency transparency and increased public access to information about the project and Authority leadership.
Some emerging themes included: construction updates, cost comparison with high-speed rail networks around the world, funding structure, public perceptions and upcoming outreach plans, and systems and operations. To read the full conversation with Lipkin, visit the Reddit post here.
The Authority will continue to explore meaningful ways of engaging with the public. Feel free to reach out to us with any suggestions!
High School Junior with a Passion for Trains
Andrew Mancini is a transportation savant, characterized by his untiring passion for trains and buses. His fascination of trains and buses can be traced back to his pre-kindergarten days, when he demonstrated a remarkable ability to memorize the names of the various Caltrain locomotives and decipher complicated bus and train schedules.
Read more about Andrew’s story at https://www.buildhsr.com/facesofhsr/#high_school_senior_with_a_passion_for_trains.
BART Board approves generational project to replace train control system
The BART Board of Directors at its January meeting voted to award a $798 million contract to Hitachi Rail STS USA, Inc. to design and build a modern Communications Based Train Control System that will dramatically improve future BART service. Replacing the current train control system, which is 47 years old, will allow BART to run more trains closer together and significantly enhance Transbay capacity. The contract is expected to be the largest BART award this decade.
Link to BART Website: https://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2020/news20200109-1
Southern California Regional Update
SoCal Team Releases First Major Draft Environmental Document
The Southern California team for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) achieved a significant milestone this spring with the issuance of the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIR/EIS) for the Bakersfield to Palmdale Project Section on February 28, soon to be followed with the issuance of the Burbank to Los Angeles project section later this spring.
Late last year, the Authority completed the administrative drafts for both project sections and submitted them to the Authority’s cooperating agencies for review. The administrative draft represents the first complete draft of the environmental documents.
The release of the Bakersfield to Palmdale document and the future Burbank to Los Angeles document will be preceded and followed by a robust public outreach period during the designated 45-day comment period. The focus of the outreach is to let interested organizations, agencies, and members of the public know that the documents are available for review, how to find information in the documents, and how to provide comments.
The Authority will hold open houses and conduct public hearings in each of the two project sections to discuss the documents and seek feedback. After the close of the 45-day comment period, the Authority will work over the next year to respond to each comment in writing and to make any necessary adjustments in the Draft EIR/EIS.
Bakersfield to Palmdale
Beginning Friday, February 28, 2020 through Friday, April 13, 2020, the Bakersfield to Palmdale Project Section Draft EIR/EIS is available for review and public comment period.
A series of public meetings to highlight the Draft EIR/EIS for this project section has been scheduled in March 2020:
- Lancaster Open House Meeting: March 4, 2020, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Jane Reynolds Park Activity Center
716 Oldfield Street
Lancaster, CA 93535
- Bakersfield Open House Meeting: March 5, 2020, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Edison Middle School Gym
721 S. Edison Road
Bakersfield, CA 93307
- Rosamond Community Event: March 26, 2020, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Rosamond Public Library (Meeting Room)
3611 Rosamond Blvd.
Rosamond, CA 93560
- Public Hearing: April 9, 2020, 3-8 p.m. Rosamond, Lancaster, Palmdale
Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park
Stanley Kleiner Activity Building
43063 North 10th St. West
Lancaster, CA 93534
After the comment period closes on April 13, 2020 and the comments received have been evaluated, staff will prepare and issue the Final EIR/EIS document and present it to the Board to consider certification and project approval under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Project Section Environmental Documents available at https://www.hsr.ca.gov/programs/environmental/eis_eir/draft_bakersfield_palmdale.aspx
Los Angeles to Burbank
A series of project update meetings have additionally been scheduled for the Burbank to Los Angeles Project Section:
- Burbank Project Update Meeting: March 9, 2020, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Buena Vista Branch Library
300 N Buena Vista St
Burbank, CA 91505
- Glendale/Atwater Village Project Update Meeting: March 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Glendale Adult Recreation Center
201 E Colorado St
Glendale, CA 91205
- Los Angeles Project Update Meeting: March 12, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Cypress Park Recreation Center
2630 Pepper Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90065
For more information visit https://www.hsr.ca.gov/
Students at USC Explore High-Speed Rail Careers
On January 30, more than 150 students attended a University of Southern California Student Affairs Career event on campus. The career event was part of the university’s Sol Price School of Public Policy in collaboration with METRANS Transportation Center at USC. Representatives from the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority), Caltrans, Metro, US Department of Transportation, Port of Long Beach and several other potential employers provided information about career opportunities.
During the panel discussion, students learned about some of the challenges in the fields of transportation, policy and sustainability. Panelists shared how they broke into their industry and what it’s like to work in their field. The Authority also shared information regarding internship opportunities, the Capital Fellows Program, student assistant opportunities at Sacramento headquarters and the #Iwillride program. Most of the students were finishing their Master’s in transportation planning, environmental policy, engineering, transportation and infrastructure planning and eager to learn more about full-time careers with high-speed rail.
Following the panel discussion, time was allowed for students to speak more personally to the panelists about their professional journeys, as well as learn more details about student assistant positions and other opportunities with high-speed rail. The event served to raise awareness on the campus about the high-speed rail project and the many benefits it offers now and with future job creation.
Authority CEO Presents at Recent SCAG Regional Council Meeting
CEO Brian Kelly joined the Southern California Association of Governments’ (SCAG) February 6 Regional Council meeting in downtown Los Angeles where he shared status updates and reiterated the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s (Authority) mission to deliver the country’s first true high-speed rail system. Kelly began his presentation by highlighting the Authority’s focus on initiating high-speed rail service in California as soon as possible, making strategic, concurrent investments that will be linked over time, further positioning the Authority to construct additional segments as funding becomes available.
Kelly also highlighted the Authority’s commitment toward improving existing commuter rail and intercity passenger rail in Southern California, including the Authority’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with LA Metro for funding on the improvements to the historic Los Angeles Union Station Link US project and numerous other state funded projects made possible by not only High-Speed Rail but the California State Transportation Agency as well.
High-Speed Rail Southern California investments include:
- Link US: $441 million for Los Angeles Union Station (in federal environmental review process)
- Shared corridor improvements: $363 million in environmental review work (for high-speed rail, Metrolink, LOSSAN, others)
- Safety Improvements: $77 million for Rosecrans/Marquardt Grade Separation
- Connectivity Projects: $389 million from Proposition 1A
Kelly also noted that in 2020 there will be 350 miles of electrified high-speed rail under development in California.
- California high-Speed rail (171 miles from Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield, 119 of which is well under construction)
- Caltrain electrification (51 miles in the San Francisco Bay Area partially funded by high-speed rail bond funds)
- Virgin Trains project (130 miles in California) in Southern California
Kelly said the recent progress and emergence of the Virgin Trains project to connect Victorville and Las Vegas brings positive opportunities to California and the high-speed rail program. His presentation touched on the Authority having recently entered into a MOU with Virgin Trains USA/Brightline to evaluate the opportunity to connect both systems in Palmdale — including interoperability and opportunities for joint purchases of materials, rolling stock and ticketing systems.
“We look forward to working with them,” he said, adding that an extension from Victorville to Palmdale could bring international partners to the table, and possible future public/private partnerships for Palmdale to Los Angeles/Anaheim project delivery and operations. “Not only getting to Palmdale but how we can work together to go beyond that.”
The presentation and agenda can be viewed here: http://scag.iqm2.com/Citizens/SplitView.aspx?Mode=Video&mpg;MeetingID=2086
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