Route proposed for Calif. high-speed rail segment

November 24, 2010 12:48:57 PM PST
Pending approval of the High Speed Rail Authority Board, the first segment of track to be built will be between Madera and Corcoran in the Central Valley. Madera is about 20 miles north of Fresno, Corcoran is about 40 miles south of Fresno.

The cost will be $4.3 billion, or about $79.6 million per mile for the 54-mile segment. But the side by side tracks won't have high speed trains on them until the entire 200-mile system is completed.

Right now completing the system is more a matter of if than when, given funding shortfalls for the estimated $42.6 billion project between the Bay Area and the Los Angeles area, which leaves open the possibility the 4.3 billion segment will sit gathering tumbleweeds for years.

Rail authority staff said in a conference call Wednesday that they are recommending this segment because it best meets federal stimulus funding requirements. In order to use the federal dollars, the first segment to be built must provide a service even if the entire high speed rail system is never completed. In this worst case scenario, the tracks could be connected to the existing Amtrak tracks and used by those trains.

Construction has to begin by September 2012. The authority says it will create at least 20,000 jobs.


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