CA High Speed Rail recognized by US Departments of Treasury and Transportation for Transformative Impact

Two recent reports from the federal government highlighted California High Speed Rail’s (HSR) economic impact. The US Department of Transportation recognized the impact that federal dollars have had on CA High Speed Rail in its final report on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The report, Shovel Worthy: What the Recovery Act Taught Us About Investing in Our Nation’s Infrastructure, showed how the Central Valley region is seeing the early benefits of the progress being made on the nation’s first high-speed rail system through job creation and business participation both large and small.

The Recovery Act provided funding for the preliminary engineering and environmental clearance for the corridor. It also provided funding for the final design and construction of the 119-mile-long Central Valley construction package that US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx toured last year. This investment in the Central Valley has led to an economic turnaround in the region. The ARRA report focuses on the economic benefits that the City of Fresno has received from Recovery Act funds. Through strategic investments, including high-speed rail construction, Fresno’s unemployment rate went from 18 percent in 2011 to 9.3 percent in 2016.

The report also highlighted the work that HSRA is doing with Small and Disadvantaged Business participation in the construction of the project. Two small businesses were highlighted in the report, Outback Materials and Valverde Construction. Valverde Construction is a certified Hispanic Owned Small Business that is has a contract for utility relocation. Valverde expanded their business through the contract, opening an office in Fresno and hiring additional workers.

Outback Materials is a certified small business based in Fresno that provides concrete for construction in the region. Outback Materials invested $3 million to build a state-of-the art plant in Fresno and hired 25 new employees. Hear owner Curtis Lovett describe how Outback Materials has benefited and expanded as a result of work for high-speed rail:

The other report, commissioned by the US Department of the Treasury on behalf of the Build America Investment Initiative, identified 40 proposed transportation and water infrastructure projects of major economic significance that face challenges to their completion. The aim was to show the public the economic benefits of completing these projects.

According to the study, HSR ranked third in net economic benefit and cost ratio and would have projected net economic benefit of $130-260 billion. Project benefits included:

  • Travel time, reliability, travel cost and productivity benefits for users transferring from auto to HSR.
  • Travel time, reliability, safety and emission benefits for highway users traveling in less congested conditions due to mode shift from auto to HSR.
  • Passenger delay, operating cost and emission savings in the aviation sector due to mode shift from air to HSR.

With more than 119-miles of active construction in the Central Valley, construction of a high-speed rail line between the Silicon Valley and Central Valley is planned to be complete by 2024, with passenger service beginning in 2025. More on the project:


US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and CalSTA Secretary Brian Kelly tour High-Speed Rail Construction

On Monday, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx joined Secretary Brian Kelly for a tour of High-Speed Rail Authority (HSR) construction sites in Fresno County. Foxx met with a team of HSR staff including CEO Jeff Morales, Central Valley Regional Director Diana Gomez, and Construction Manager Hugo Mejia to be briefed on the project’s construction progress.  Approximately 119 miles of construction is underway in the Central Valley from Madera County to Kern County. Secretary Foxx’s visit was concentrated in Construction Package 1 which has eight active construction sites within a 32-mile stretch.


The tour began at the Fresno River Viaduct where Secretary Foxx looked at the first free standing structure of the system. The 1,600-foot aerial structure will carry high-speed trains over the Fresno River and State Route 145. Work on this site began in June 2015 and is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.


HSR CEO Jeff Morales shows Secretary Foxx and Secretary Kelly the Fresno River Viaduct aerial structure.


The next stop on Secretary Foxx’s visit was a visit the San Joaquin River Viaduct, a 4,740-foot structure that will span the San Joaquin river in North Fresno and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks parallel to State Route 99. The viaduct construction will feature arches to represent the northern gateway into the city of Fresno.

img_5253The Union Pacific structure adjoining State Route 99, HSR’s San Joaquin Viaduct will run parallel to this structure.


Secretary Foxx, CEO Jeff Morales, and Secretary Kelly stand on the San Joaquin Viaduct construction site.

Secretary Foxx’s tour of Construction Package 1 concluded at the Tuolumne Street Bridge in downtown Fresno where he was joined by Congressman Jim Costa and Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.

The original Tuolumne Street Bridge was demolished to accommodate HSR and to create two-way vehicle traffic on the bridge to support the revitalization of Fresno’s city core. A month ago, crews poured concrete onto the deck of the new bridge which can be viewed here:


The new Tuolumne Street Bridge allows for two-way traffic into downtown Fresno.

Five small businesses are working on the construction of the Tuolumne Street structure including J. Kroeker, Inc., American Crane Rental, Inc., Parrish Hansen Engineering, Oliveira Fence, Inc., and Tommy’s Water Trucks. This is a small sampling of the 318 small businesses working on HSR which include 100 disadvantaged business enterprises and 36 disabled veteran business enterprises. In addition to this growth, HSR continues to support workforce development and job creation with over 350 students graduating from pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeship classes. There are over 680 skilled craft workers helping build HSR in the four construction packages. It is estimated that HSR will create over 3,500 permanent jobs throughout the state when HSR opens and expands its service.

The project continues to build as a carbon-neutral project, HSR requires its design-build contractors to recycle all concrete and steel and use the newest, cleanest diesel engines.  The project has used over 200 tons of 100% recycled steel in columns and structures. The project has recycled or stockpiled over 19,800 tons of concrete, steel, and other mixed construction materials. In the coming weeks, they will be planting trees to offset any construction emissions.

For more construction updates, visit Build HSR:

US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and CalSTA Secretary Brian Kelly visit Transbay Transit Center

On Thursday, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx joined Secretary Brian Kelly for a visit to the Transbay Transit Center construction site. Foxx met with the Center’s team and was briefed on the project. Managed by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the site will be a multimodal hub for transit connectivity throughout the Bay Area and state.

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Photo Aug 25, 2 06 31 PMView of the city from the rooftop deck and public park
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Crews working on the façade of the Center

On track to be certified LEED Gold, the transit center will serve 11 different transit systems in center of San Francisco. The terminal will include a bus deck which will connect Transbay bus service from the East Bay with service to Marin County and down the Peninsula.

Photo Aug 25, 1 48 34 PM (1)CalSTA team touring the bus bay level of the Transbay Center

Photo Aug 25, 1 47 53 PM (1)The bus deck will also have a direct connection the Bay Bridge via a new onramp and 60% of the center’s visitors will come from the East Bay. It will also connect transit users with Amtrak and Greyhound bus service to move throughout the state.

Photo Aug 25, 1 58 35 PM (1)This is the direct connect ramp from the Bay Bridge to the bus deck – the large pillar will have cables extending to emulate the new East Span of the Bay Bridge

The center will also include a train platform which will serve as the northern terminus for both Caltrain and high-speed rail. This will extend rail 1.3 miles to connect a new underground rail station at Fourth and Townsend, replacing the current SF depot, and bringing Caltrain commuters closer to the city’s center. This section of the center was made possible through an $400 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Grant.

The underground train platforms

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In addition to the transit platforms and bus bays, the facility will also house a concourse level for ticketing, bike storage, and 100,000 square feet of retail. One of the highlights of the center will be the 5.4 acres of open space on top of the center which will feature a walking/jogging trail, amphitheater to seat around 1,000 people, restaurant, a children’s playground and over 13 gardens. It will have 10 different access points.

The Transbay Transit Center is scheduled to open in 2017.

Fresno Bee: L.A. high-speed rail backers tour Fresno, Madera construction sites

In case you missed it, The Fresno Bee’s Tim Sheehan published the following article on an advocacy group’s  firsthand look at high-speed rail construction in the Central Valley on July 12, 2016:

A small contingent of high-speed rail supporters from Los Angeles spent Tuesday morning getting a firsthand look at construction in Fresno and Madera on the first stages of the state’s bullet-train project.

Jeremy Stutes, president of the nonprofit advocacy organization railLA, said the trek was an important part of his nonprofit’s effort to let people in Southern California know that the project is no longer simply an abstract plan on a map.

“It’s been real interesting to see high-speed rail rising from the ground,” he said. “We really see it as our future rising, and we’re really excited to be here and see what’s happening. … It’s hard to see when you’re in Los Angeles. It’s hard to visualize that this construction is rising here in Fresno and to get behind it.”


Stutes and about eight other railLA members left Los Angeles’ Union Station on Monday aboard an Amtrak connector bus, which broke down en route to Bakersfield. That turned what would ordinarily be a 4 1/2 -to-five-hour bus/train ride into a seven-hour trip. There is currently no direct rail connection between the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles, so travelers heading north must rely on bus connections before boarding Amtrak’s San Joaquin trains in Bakersfield to continue through the Valley to Oakland or Sacramento.

The organization has about 1,500 members on its mailing list, Stutes said, plus several thousand more followers for its social media accounts.

“We see rail as part of a transformational movement to get people out of cars and into different forms of transportation and really achieve the benefits,” Stutes said. “In Los Angeles, we have terrible traffic, so we benefit from having alternative modes of transportation to get across the state and to cities nearby.”

The sites the group toured Tuesday are all part of the first $1 billion construction contract awarded in mid-2013 to a joint venture led by Tutor Perini Inc. of Sylmar. That contract spanned 29 miles from Avenue 17 in Madera to American Avenue at the south edge of Fresno. Earlier this year, the contract was extended northward by about 3 miles to Avenue 19 near Madera’s Amtrak station at a cost of an additional $155 million.

A photographer with the group shot video and photos at the Fresno River viaduct on the eastern edge of Madera; a new bridge to span the San Joaquin River near Highway 99 at the Fresno-Madera county line; the Tuolumne Street bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad freight line and the future high-speed rail tracks in downtown Fresno; and a viaduct that will carry high-speed trains over Cedar Avenue and Highway 99 at the southern edge of Fresno.

“We’re shooting a documentary of how we got here from L.A. to Fresno,” Stutes said, “and also documenting what it’s like to tour the construction sites and really spread the message that high-speed rail is happening, that we’re 110 percent behind it, and we really need to figure out solutions to keep it moving forward in the future.”

Stutes and his group’s members were disappointed earlier this year when the California High-Speed Rail Authority announced that it was planning to run its first operational trains between the San Joaquin Valley and the Silicon Valley by 2025. Since 2012, the agency’s intention was to begin operations from the Valley into the Los Angeles basin, but the authority pivoted northward last spring with its 2016 business plan.

“When that happened, certainly we were frustrated,” Stutes said. “We were excited to get high-speed rail first. Now the Bay Area gets it first. But we understand that it’s more ready to build, that things are further along in the process. … We won’t get it first, but people are benefiting across the state and we want to stand behind the project.”

Street closures

In downtown Fresno, Tuolumne Street is closed between G Street and Broadway Street while the Tuolumne Street bridge is under construction. G Street is closed under the bridge.

To the south, the intersection of Tulare and F streets is closed this week as part of repaving work associated with high-speed rail construction. The closure began Monday and is expected to continue through Friday.

Read more here:




First Vertical Structure at the Fresno River Viaduct

MADERA, Calif. – Today, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) and its design-build contractor Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons (TPZP) advanced work on 16 vertical columns that will support the Fresno River Viaduct. The viaduct is the first vertical structure being built as part of the California High-Speed Rail program. Significant construction work at this site began in June and most recently, the construction team has been working to build the 16 columns that will support the approximately 1,600-foot length of the viaduct.

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The Fresno River Viaduct will span from Raymond Road to Watson Street in Madera County, crossing over the Fresno River and State Route 145, parallel to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks.

The viaduct is part of Construction Package 1, the first 29-mile construction area that stretches from Avenue 17 in Madera County to East American Avenue in Fresno County. Approximately 75 people will work on completing this structure, including TPZP subcontractors Moore Twining Associates, Becho, Inc., Landavazo Bros., Inc and Schwager Davis, Inc. with materials being supplied by Martinez Steel Corporation and Outback Materials.

For additional images visit

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Bullet Train Project Actually on Track

Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, penned a letter to the editor for the Sacramento Bee. It is included below in full:

Re “Bullet train likely to miss budget, deadline targets” (Page 3A, Oct. 25): A recent report on the California high-speed rail gave readers a dramatic but false impression of where our program stands in terms of costs and technical hurdles. In truth, we are making steady progress. Work is underway on the over 100-mile rail segment in the Central Valley, with over $2 billion in construction contracts executed. Drive along Highway 99 and you will see crews.

Although the article had extensive speculation about potential future cost growth, it omitted that the first construction contracts have come in hundreds of millions of dollars below estimates. The article also makes it seem as though no one has thought about the challenge of tunneling through mountain ranges. On the contrary, we have brought in some of the world’s leading tunneling experts and they’re confident of our ability to construct the needed tunnels.

Any infrastructure investment of this size will face risks associated with cost and schedules. To that end, we’ve employed the most advanced risk management strategies available. This approach has resulted in lower costs and faster timelines.

There will be bumps along the way, for sure, and we will be forthright about the difficulties, but the article stands in stark contrast to the progress we’re making.

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