High Speed Rail ended last week on a positive, a change that must have been welcomed by the much maligned transit authority.

With its environmental reports approved for construction of the Merced-to-Fresno line, the Rail Authority came one step closer to laying the first of its tracks. The effort to fund and construct all of the rails and support infrastructure received a surprise boost from a local investor who came forward with a proposal to build the $1 billion maintenance yard.

That sort of buy-in from the private sector is essential to the revised business plan and price tag of $68 billion. The proposal would use a design-build-operate and finance model, where the developer and his corporation would operate the facility while leasing it back to the Authority. Over a certain period of time, the facility would then become the property of the Authority.

Despite the recent success, opposition remains firm against the rail by local business owners and residents.

From the Fresno Bee:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority took a key step toward developing its proposed passenger-train system Thursday, certifying environmental reports and formally approving the first portion of the line between Merced and Fresno.

Skeptics remain even as the authority pushes forward on building as soon as this year. But Thursday, a new booster stepped forward — Madera real-estate developer Ed McIntyre, who said that he and partners are ready to spend $1 billion developing a maintenance yard and more if the authority puts it on their property in Madera.

Read the full article here.