Metro Moves to Support Development of California High Speed Rail

Fri August 28, 2009 - West Edition
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Conceptual design for a high speed rail station in Anaheim, Calif.
Conceptual design for a high speed rail station in Anaheim, Calif.

In a move that brings high speed train service one step closer to reality in Southern California and the state, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors today approved the agency’s support for the development of the California High Speed Rail initiative, as well as a first segment that would connect Los Angeles to Anaheim in less than 20 minutes.

The decision officially brings Metro on board as a strategic partner in a broad-based coalition of transportation and other agencies statewide that are committed to building an 800-mi. (1,290 km) network of trains whose maximum speeds can reach up to 220 mph. The high-speed train network would connect Southern, Central and Northern California as proposed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA). Under a Memorandum of Understanding, both Metro and CHSRA would work together to establish high-speed train service in the Los Angeles Corridor utilizing, among others, Metro-owned facilities and rights-of-way. Metro will ensure full integration of all of its public transit services serving Union Station, which include the Metro Red Line, Metro Gold Line and ubiquitous Metro Local and Metro Rapid bus lines.

Metro has put its weight behind the very first proposed segment that would begin at L.A. Union Station and end at the proposed Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) Station in Anaheim. End to end, the trip would take less than 20 minutes, its stations resembling airports without airplanes.

The proposed segment has already undergone preliminary environmental reviews and is now considered one of the most “construction ready” projects of its type in the country. CHSRA has completed an Alternatives Analysis and is expected to issue a draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Study for the L.A. to Anaheim segment at the end of 2009.

Construction could begin as early as 2012 and open in 2018. The five-year construction period and ongoing operation of the service would create 75,000 regional jobs while establishing a new centralized high speed transportation alternative that is also safe, reliable and environmentally friendly.

“High speed rail is just the kind of sustainable economic stimulus we need during this recession,” Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Director Antonio Villaraigosa said. “It will help reduce traffic, improve air quality, and create direct construction and service jobs for the Los Angeles region.”

Transportation agencies throughout California are encouraged by recent developments at the state and national levels that will potentially accelerate the L.A. to Anaheim segment. California’s high-speed rail line efforts, for example, are funded in part by $9.95 billion in voter-approved Proposition 1A — the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Train Bond Act of November 2008. Additionally, the project also is eligible for $8 billion in funding under the federal government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

In its action, the Board also voted to support the preparation of a statewide application to receive ARRA funds for the project. The deadline to submit the state’s application is Aug. 1, a deadline all parties are now actively preparing to meet.

The Board also voted to support general improvements to the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor for more efficient and coordinated service.

“Metro Bus and Rail lines will provide the connections that will help feed this new high speed train service here at Union Station,” said Art Leahy, Metro CEO. “Union Station will become transformed into a world-class, 21st Century intermodal transit hub that will serve the county of Los Angeles in ways that are very exciting to imagine.”

A statewide high-speed train system will offset the need to spend nearly $100 billion to build up to 3,000 miles of new freeway lanes, five airport runways and 90 departure gates over the next 20 years – all for less than half the cost. The effort also will be an important step forward in building “Livable Cities.”

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