California approves bullet train link from Central Valley to Bay Area

By Lauren Hernández, Ricardo Cano, Dustin Gardiner, San Francisco Chronicle, April 29, 2022

“The High Speed Rail Authority Board unanimously approved plans and environmental clearance for the segment between San Jose and Merced on [April 28]. Now, the agency estimates the line will open for service in 2031, though the project has faced repeated delays and cost overruns.

“The train system could take riders between Fresno and San Jose in about an hour, a roughly three-hour drive by car today. Dan Richard, a former chairman of the Rail Authority Board who resigned in 2019, said the extension will help California address a jobs-housing mismatch between the disparate regions.

“The section approved … will connect San Jose’s Diridon Station and a station in downtown Gilroy to the five-station Central Valley segment from Merced to Bakersfield, the project’s initial 171-mile stretch.

“Rick Harnish, executive director of High Speed Rail Alliance, a national advocacy group, said the move underscores how the Rail Authority has not lost sight of its ultimate goal of connecting coastal and inland areas — and creating a system that spans physical and economic barriers.

“ ‘This is the first rail crossing of Pacheco Pass, which changes the economic geography of the state,’ Harnish said, referring to the mountain range between the Central Valley and Silicon Valley. ‘This is a huge step forward.’

“A second phase in the Bay Area — from San Jose to San Francisco — is expected to gain its environmental clearance this summer, according to the authority. It’s projected to open for service in 2033.”

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