Representatives from the California High-Speed Rail Authority are still planning the Bakersfield to Palmdale high-speed rail section and are eager to share new information regarding state-mandated environmental reports, even though no funding is yet available to construct this section of the project.
Diana Gomez, Central Valley regional director for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said the organization is inviting the public to open house meetings and a public hearing in the area this spring to comment on the draft for the Environmental Impact Report.
"This is a huge milestone for us," Gomez said. She added, “So every section now has a preliminary preferred alignment. So we know how exactly how the train will travel from San Francisco all the way through Los Angeles based on these alignments.”
Routes are still in the planning process despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement in February 2019 that the original rail project will be downscaled.
Details on the 80-mile route from Bakersfield to Palmdale are being fine-tuned, and the route still needs final approval.
The proposed section begins at F Street in Bakersfield, travels over Edison Highway on the south side, turns away from the close proximity of the César E. Chávez National Monument and goes toward Tehachapi, eventually ending in Palmdale near other major transportation sources, said Rick Simon, project manager for the California High-Speed Rail Program.
“Our original alignment avoided the Cesar Chavez Center, but was was fairly close to it. ... Through our consultation with the National Park Service and the Cesar Chavez Center we looked at a design option that moves the alignment farther away and also lowered it a little bit and reduced the visibility of the train,” Simon said.
Anyone interested in a specific address or land coordinate where the high-speed rail passes through can access that information at public meetings via programs from High-Speed Rail Authority representatives.
Simon added that to power the train, there is an overhead electric system, substations every five miles along the alignment that regulate the power, 100-foot communication towers every two miles and 12 miles of tunnels for this route.
The public meetings that will be held soon are March 4 at the Stanley Kleiner Activity Building at 43063 N. 10th St. West in Lancaster and March 5 at the Edison Middle School Gym at 721 S. Edison Road in Bakersfield. Each meeting is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and will cover the same information.
The public hearing for the draft of the Environmental Impact Report is April 9, with the location and time soon to be announced.