After a two-year wait, brought by legal setbacks, the high-speed rail line in California will officially break ground today in Fresno, Calif. Cited as one of the largest infrastructure projects in the state’s history, the project will eventually connect Los Angeles and San Francisco—the largest metropolitan areas of the Golden State. Projected to be at least $68 billion in construction costs, the 800-mile rail line, which will run through 24 stations, is estimated to take at least 14 years to complete.
The groundbreaking ceremony inaugurates the first portion of the building process, a 29-mile segment of the rail line that will connect Fresno and Madera, both stops in the Central Valley. Fresno was specifically chosen because that is where the project received the most support, according to the LA Times. The rail line has been hindered by two years of legal troubles, mostly in the form of opposition from municipalities the rail would pass through, who would have to cede private land but would not benefit from a rail stop. Additionally, politicians and critics have elongated this process by questioning the cost and legality of the rail. Because there has been such scrutiny on the economic viability of the rail line, the High-Speed Rail Authority has detailed the economic costs and benefits of the new transportation system in this fact sheet.
Due to construction setbacks, the building process must move quickly to comply with the federally funding requirement, which added about $3.2 billion to the overall budget, that was granted in 2014. If everything goes accordingly, the set of cities included in first phase will run through include Anaheim up to Burbank, Palmdale, Bakersfield, and Fresno; then west to Gilroy, San Jose and into San Francisco. The second and longer phase of construction will add on Merced, Modesto, Stockton, and Sacramento up north; and Riverside, Escondido and San Diego in the south.
When it is finally complete, the trip from two the major cities is estimated to take about 3 hours, with speeds above 200 miles per hour.
Anaheim's rail station, dubbed Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) opened last month in anticipation of the arrival of High Speed Rail to the city. The $188 million, 67,880-square-foot terminal, designed by a team of HOK and Parsons Brinckerhoff with MEP and façade engineering services by Buro Happold, is enclosed by a linear parabolic shell with variable-frit ETFE roof cladding, and structural glass curtainwall systems at its north and south ends. Operable louvers allow natural ventilation within the station, and contribute toward energy efficiency that will allow the station to target LEED Platinum certification.
A live stream of the groundbreaking ceremony will be available at 3pm EST / 12pm PST via the California HSR Authority's website.