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California High Speed Rail Authority approves nation's first environmental impact report for high-speed train system

(The California High Speed Rail Authority issued the following news release on November 2.)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) voted unanimously today in the State Capitol to approve their environmental impact report on one of the nation's largest transportation projects.

"California is a giant step closer to building a 700-mile high-speed train system serving Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley and Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Orange County and San Diego," said CHSRA Chair Fran Florez.

According to the environmental impact report, which affirmed the viability of high-speed trains in California, high-speed train travel between San Diego and Los Angeles will take one hour and fifteen minutes, and just over two and a half hours from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The system will be capable of carrying 68 million passengers a year by 2020 at a low passenger cost per mile.

The voluminous report issued in draft form in 2004 with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) contains 64 technical reports and received over 2,000 public and governmental agency comments. The EIR approval is the culmination of hundreds of public meetings in affected regions and a thorough review of the draft document by all stakeholders.

"High-speed trains are no longer a concept in California. We are poised to build a system that helps move people safely and reliably between our major metropolitan areas in a manner that is sensitive to California's environment," said Florez. "Today marks a new chapter in California's rich history and one in which we care for the economic and environmental well-being of future generations."

The EIR/EIS underscores the tremendous travel demands facing California as the population increases and highways and airports reach gridlock. This new and distinct system will provide unprecedented connectivity to existing air, highway and conventional rail for passengers. High-speed trains have proven to reduce travel times, increase safety, decrease air pollution and energy consumption as well as provide reliability and predictability for travelers.

Longtime high-speed rail supporter and CHSRA board past president and member Ron Diridon concluded, "The California High Speed train project will be recognized as the most profound environmental and economic breakthrough of the 21st century."

Thursday, November 3, 2005

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