Ground broken on Californian high-speed rail line

By Chris Sleight07 January 2015

California state Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and other dignitaries sign a ceremonial rail at the Fr

California state Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and other dignitaries sign a ceremonial rail at the Fresno ground-breaking ceremony.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority held a ground-breaking ceremony for the US state’s planned high-speed line in Fresno on January 6. The ceremony was held in the city’s downtown area at the site of the future high-speed train station, and was attended by state Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., among others.

The first phase of the work – Construction Package 1 – comprises a 29 mile (47 km) stretch of track through the city of Fresno, linking to the town of Madera to the north in California’s central valley. The design & build contract for this package was awarded to a consortium of Tutor Perini, Zachry and Parsons in April 2013, which won with a US$ 985 million bid for the work.

Speaking at the ground-breaking, California High-Speed Rail Authority chairman Dan Richard said, “We now enter a period of sustained construction on the nation’s first high-speed rail system – for the next five years in the central valley and for a decade after across California.”

Although the ground-breaking ceremony marked the official start of the project, preparatory work on Construction Package 1 has been underway since March. This has included demolition of various structures along with the finalisation of designs and land acquisitions. The contract is due for completion in 2017.

The California High-Speed Rail project is envisaged as a 1,300 km network comprising some 24 stations. It’s main aim is to link the major population centres of Los Angeles and San Francisco, with a journey time between the two cities of 2 hours 40 minutes.. Further extension would link in the state capital Sacramento in the North and San Diego in the South.

The initial 209 km segment will link Madera, to Corcoran, which is north of Bakersfield in the central valley. In 2012 the Californian Senate approved funding of US$ 6.95 billion for this part of the scheme.

The total cost of the Los Angeles to San Francisco phase of Californian high speed rail project was put at US$ 65.4 billion to US$ 74.5 billion in a 2012 study.

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