November 22, 2014

STB OKs Calif. high-speed project

SACRAMENTO – The California High-Speed Rail Authority won approval Thursday from a federal railroad oversight board to start construction this summer on the first leg of what would be the nation’s first bullet train.

In a 67-page decision issued June 13, the Surface Transportation Board ruled 2-1 that the state could begin work on the first 65 miles of the project from Merced to Fresno, as long as it maintains the current route and follows through on promises to mitigate damage to the environment caused by construction.

Read the full story at The Monterey County Herald.

(The Associated Press article above reports that the STD ruled 2-1 that the state could begin the project. While Vice Chairperson Ann D. Begeman dissented, in part, with the decision, she did not vote against it. The STB’s decision reads, in part:

It is ordered:

1. Under 49 U.S.C. § 10502, the Board exempts the construction of the above-described 65-mile Merced-to-Fresno passenger line from the prior approval requirements of 49 U.S.C. § 10901, subject to the following conditions:

(a) The California High Speed Rail Authority may construct the Preferred Build Alternative, identified as the environmentally preferable alternative by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which consists of the Hybrid Alternative and the Downtown Merced and Downtown Fresno Mariposa Avenue station alternatives, subject to compliance with all the mitigation measures specified in the Mitigation Monitoring and Enforcement Plan imposed by FRA and provided as Appendix C to FRA’s Record of Decision, dated September 18, 2012.

(b) The California High-Speed Rail Authority shall comply with the Memorandum of Agreement developed through the Section 106 process of the National Historic Preservation Act.

2. The Authority’s reply to public comments is accepted for consideration.

3. CC-HSR’s supplemental comment and the late-filed comments of individuals are accepted for consideration.

4. Notice will be published in the Federal Register on June 19, 2013.

5. Petitions to reopen must be filed by July 3, 2013.

6. This decision shall be effective on June 28, 2013.

By the Board, Chairman Elliott, Vice Chairman Begeman, and Commissioner Mulvey.

Vice Chairman Begeman concurred in part and dissented in part with a separate expression. Commissioner Mulvey concurred with a separate expression.)

To view a copy of the STB’s decision, click here.