The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) today released a Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR)/Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 114-mile Fresno to Bakersfield Project section. This document provides alternatives for public consideration and comment; no decisions have yet been made on these proposals. In its continued efforts to receive robust public participation in its process, the Authority has lengthened the public comment period to 60 days which is 15 days more than what is required by law.
The Draft EIR/EIS for the Fresno to Bakersfield section was released for public review in August 2011. In response to public feedback on the High-Speed Train (HST) alignment alternatives, the Authority and Federal Railroad Administration decided to revise the Draft EIR/EIS to include additional route and station options.
“We are fully committed to an open and transparent process and the revised environmental document we are releasing is a testament to that,” said Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. “The revised environmental document we release today responds to many of the public’s initial concerns and feedback which were drawn from communities throughout the Central Valley. We know we haven’t addressed all issues to everyone’s satisfaction but this next part of the process is designed to get the public’s input to continue to improve this document going forward.”
On July 5 and 6, the California Assembly and Senate approved funding for initial construction of the high speed rail system, along with funding for regional and local rail improvements statewide. This initial construction is expected to reach from north of Fresno to just north of Bakersfield.
The Revised Draft EIR/Supplemental Draft EIS includes the environmental analysis and mitigation measures associated with new alignment alternatives and potential station locations west of Hanford, an additional alternative through Bakersfield, and refinements to the existing Fresno to Bakersfield alternative alignments.
Public testimony on the revised documents will be accepted from July 20 to September 20, 2012, and can be sent via regular mail, email, through the Authority website or at public workshops or hearings scheduled on the dates noted below. Comments received during the public comment period will be used to identify issues that may require evaluation or additional consideration. Each comment received regarding the environmental document will be reviewed and substantive comments will be addressed in the Final EIR/EIS document, anticipated for public release in early 2013. Comments on the Draft EIR/EIS circulated in 2011 will also be addressed in the Final EIR/EIS.