Bullet train-2

Artist's conception of the bullet train speeding through the Tehachapi Pass.

California's high-speed rail agency on Friday finalized a route between Shafter and Bakersfield, allowing it to move forward with acquisition of property including the long-awaited purchase of Golden Empire Transit District's F Street headquarters.

Twenty-three miles of track will run generally southeast and east at street level from Poplar Avenue in Shafter to Highway 99 and Union Pacific Railroad's existing alignment, according to the California High-Speed Rail Authority. From there the route is planned to continue mostly on an elevated platform to a station at F Street and Golden State Avenue in Bakersfield.

The agency's filing Friday of a federal "record of decision" removes uncertainty that for years has hung over GET, Bakersfield's public bus system, whose headquarters along Golden State Avenue must be relocated to make way for the proposed bullet-train station.

An earlier alignment studied by the agency would have run trains all the way to Truxtun and Union avenues, causing what Bakersfield government leaders and others considered avoidable disruption to existing homes, businesses and city-owned property.

The rail authority abandoned that earlier plan after being sued by the city of Bakersfield, which eventually dropped its opposition after project officials agreed to study the route finalized Friday.

The rail authority said its approval process benefited from cooperation with local participants. It added that rail officials had attended or put together more than 100 stakeholder meetings.

“This builds upon analysis done previously in the region, narrowing down the specific alignment route that was most amenable to the local communities,” the rail authority said in the release.

GET CEO Karen King welcomed Friday's announcement, saying it ends the five-year "holding pattern" that has kept the transit district from moving forward with a relocation and planned expansion of its services.

She was unable to offer a timetable for selling the transit district's headquarters or estimate how much money the rail authority will have to pay for the property. But once the headquarters is sold, she said it will take GET between three and five years to relocate “because we’ll have to acquire the property, design a new facility and construct a new facility, and that takes time.”

Friday's filing moves the rail authority closer to its goal of finishing construction of a 119-mile line between Merced and Bakersfield by 2025 or 2026.

Service between the two cities is planned to begin in 2028. Not until 2033 is the larger project between San Francisco and Anaheim scheduled to begin service.

The record of decision filed Friday is a significant milestone for the rail authority as it tries to meet a 2022 federal deadline for finalizing the full, 520-mile project's environmental permitting.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

(10) comments

GaryJohns

Jerry Brown's "bullet train"... "Bringing in illegals at 200 MPH...."

Nevermind

Some of you act like it's just going to be used to go to Shafter. It's not 747 flights from Meadows to Minter fields, it's part of a state wide route. Now if only more people would act on their threat to leave the state.....

She Dee

It'll get stalled again for some reason or another. If I live to be 100, I might get to ride this train if it is completed by 2053! It was already supposed to done. I won't hold my breath or make a bet on it! As usual...this train looks so good on paper!

Boris25

I can drive to Shafter from Bakersfield quicker than driving to the "high speed train station" and for far less money than what I will pay in taxes

mrdwm1

Get a grip! The entire HSR fiasco was never more than a commuter from the central cities to outlying areas, to enable our urban brothers & sisters to live somewhere other than the streets of San Fran & L.A. By making it a "statewide" system, we all get to pay for it.

Ray Riley

Billions of taxpayers money down the drain and into the pockets of politicians and corrupt construction corporations...

REMUDA

" . . . Twenty-three miles of track . . . " Oh boy . . . I can hardly wait ! . . . uh . . . jus'a'minut !. . . (TAKES 10 MILES JUST TO GET TO "HI-SPEED 95" AND DECELERATE???) . . . ? I'll be dead by then . . . and live in Maricopa anyway . . .50 nautical miles southwest of Bako . . . & where to park? . . . and then 'Uber' (?) to & around Shafter ?. . . uh . . . 'Main Street' . . .uh . . . where's Shafter anyway ?. . . and what's there to see, or . . . ???

( . . . who ARE these people anyway . . . GET CEO Karen King . . . ?)

GetReal2

Precisely why Kern opposes high speed rail: because who on earth would choose to pay to travel (versus say hitchhike) from Shafter to Bakersfield? The idea that the map moves to LA appears as foreign to many as unwrapping a banana skin to get at the fruit.

whittierblvd

thats just great!!! shafter to bake o !! all aboard !!

Inconvenient Truth

Just think of it! In a mere 9 years, the citizens of Bakersfield can begin taking day trips to,... wait for it,... beautiful Merced!!!

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