The state's Public Works Board on Monday cleared the way for the California High-Speed Rail Authority to begin negotiating for property in Fresno and Madera counties needed for high-speed train tracks.

In a meeting that lasted less than 10 minutes, the board -- which includes the directors of the state's Finance, General Services and Transportation departments -- voted 3-0 to approve the formal selection of 356 separate parcels by the rail authority.

The Public Works Board is in charge of buying land for highway and other transportation projects in the state.

Rail authority officials can now start making offers to owners whose property is targeted for the first stage of construction. Those parcels are either in the path of the tracks themselves or will be affected by related construction, including overpasses to carry city streets and county roads over the tracks or the relocation of Highway 99 between Ashlan and Clinton avenues.

"By enabling us to begin making offers to landowners for their property we are on our way to starting construction this summer," said Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.