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September 7, 2010 > California High-Speed Rail Authority certifies revised final program EIR

California High-Speed Rail Authority certifies revised final program EIR

Submitted By Rachel Wall

On September 2, the California High-Speed Rail Authority certified its Revised Final Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Bay Area to Central Valley portion of the state's high-speed train system.

The Revised Final Program EIR includes responses to more than 3,700 comments from more than 500 agencies, local governments, and members of the public received in the 45-day comment period in March and April, when the Authority circulated the draft revised document to comply with a court judgment. The ruling did not affect the Authority's continuing project-level work to evaluate the environmental impacts of the San Francisco to San Jose or San Jose to Merced sections of the system.

"Today's decision marks another major step forward in making California the home of the nation's first high-speed rail network," said Authority Chairman Curt Pringle. "Californians want this project done right and that means a careful and thoughtful assessment of how to minimize environmental impacts while building a project that creates enormous opportunity for the people of our state."

While the revised report includes a number of revisions, public comments, and new responses to those comments, like the 2008 report that preceded it, the newly certified report identified the Pacheco Pass Network Alternative serving San Francisco via San Jose as the preferred option to connect the Bay Area to the Central Valley. The report notes that the Pacheco Pass alternative minimizes the impacts on wetlands, bodies of water, and the environment.

As required by the court, the report includes a revised description of the project between San Jose and Gilroy that incorporates impacts on surrounding homes and businesses, impacts on the Monterey Highway, and impacts on Union Pacific's use of its right-of- way.

The report also addresses statements made by Union Pacific about the use of its right-of-way for the project and the implications for land use and property impacts in the region, finding that the railroad's position would not render any of the alternative alignments analyzed in the EIR infeasible.

In March, the Authority circulated a Revised Draft Program EIR to comply with a court judgment challenging the 2008 report. The Authority held two public hearings in the region earlier this year and also accepted public comment on the revised report at two meetings the week beginning August 30 before taking a final vote to certify the report and select a preferred network alternative to connect the Bay Area to the Central Valley.

For more information, visit www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov.

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