gmhTODAY 15 gmhToday July Aug 2017 - Page 15

Coming in 2018 The state’s high-speed rail system will only be competitive if it enables travelers to reach their destinations in a way that’s superior to various other transportation options. Closing the existing gaps in the rail network will help. The California State Transportation Agency and Caltrans are collaborating on a 2018 California State Rail Plan that is expected to fully incorporate the high-speed rail system as the backbone for an improved state network. Stay tuned. CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL STATEWIDE SYSTEM Sacramento HSR Phase I is broken down into project sections. The 84-mile San San José to Merced Project Section will travel through South County to Francisco connect stations in San José and Gilroy before heading east to Merced. Within that section is the Morgan Hill to Gilroy Subsection. The San Jose exact nature this route will take is yet to be determined, and none of the Authority’s proposed rail alignment options have succeeded in Gilroy attracting a groundswell of support locally. City and county officials and residents of Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin have attended public meetings and followed the Authority’s progress with a mixture of concern and frustration at the lack of information about the impacts and costs of bringing high- speed rail through our region. Questions remain unanswered with respect to the Authority’s proposed alignments, possible modifications to those alignments, capacity to consider other alignments, and intentions as far as mitigating impacts of the alignment that’s ultimately chosen. Currently, our public officials are taking steps to influence the Authority’s alignment decisions with their priorities and community LEGEND input in mind. Consulting firms have been engaged to help evalu- Phase 1 ate the Authority’s proposed options for our region. The Authority Phase 2 has agreements with both cities and the County to reimburse costs Proposed Station associated with these efforts. Before work can begin on the San José to Merced section, CHSRA staff must have funding commitments and an environmental impact report/statement (EIR/EIS) approved by its board of directors and the Federal Railroad Administration. If the Authority meets these milestones in 2018, construction could begin in 2019 and extend into 2023, followed by the requisite two-year testing period, in order to have this section operational in 2025. Tripousis said, “The ultimate goal of any environmental process is to identify the least environmentally damaging, practicable alternative. We hope to have a draft document some time before the end of this year. Meanwhile, the Authority has released a Request for Proposals to secure a Train Operator for the High-Speed Rail System (the initial focus is operation of the Central Valley to Silicon Valley section, with the first trains being tested between Merced and Bakersfield). A “pre-bid conference” is being held in Sacramento on July 12 th . GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Proposed Statewide Alignment JULY/AUGUST 2017 Stockton Modesto Merced Madera Fresno Kings/Tulare Bakersfield Palmdale San Bernardino Burbank Los Angeles Riverside Anaheim San Diego SUBJECT TO CHANGE – MAY 2016 15 Graphics SAN JOSE to MERCED