High Speed Rail Authority asks locals, “What do you want your train station to look like?”

The California High Speed Rail (HSR) Authority is asking for your advice.

The backbone of what is intended to become California’s high speed rail starts in the Central Valley. The first four stations to be built will be in Bakersfield, Hanford, Fresno and Madera.

At an open house in Hanford on April 30, project designer Peter Sokoloff said that HSR has its own product branding but that each station will also incorporate each community’s unique qualities.

Sokoloff said that the Authority is doing their own research on each location but wanted residents’ to tell them what makes their communities special and how they would want to incorporated that into their station.

The HSR stations will be elevated and sit on a platform while the amenities such as restaurants, shops and cafes will be under the viaduct. Four tracks will run through the station with the inner two express lines and two outer tracks stopping in Hanford.

Not all trains will be stopping at each of the four stations.

The viaduct is currently under construction and the traffic pattern has been altered on Highway 198 to accommodate construction.

The goal said Sokoloff was to create some energy around the Kings/Tulare County station even before trains start operating.

The Kings/Tulare County station will be located just east of Hanford at Highway 198 and Highway 43 about a mile from the Costco.

Besides reflecting the region, the design of the stations will provide seamless convenience of amenities with the train platforms. Sokoloff also said the stations need to be resilient and sustainable and have efficient backrooms where the stations running operations are housed.

Attendees were encouraged to leave comments on post-it notes and leave them on the renderings of the Hanford Station. For those that did not attend the open house they can still give their feedback by going to HSR website or sending them an email at info@hsr,ca.gov

Sokoloff said that they will be back in December with an updated rendering of the Hanford station incorporating everyone’s feedback.

“We will want to know what you think,” said Sokoloff.

Why the Central Valley?

From the time Californians voted in 2008 on proposition 1a to fund construction of the HSR, the Central Valley was already designated as the backbone of the system.

According to the Authority, “The Central Valley is home to approximately 6 million residents and is becoming more prominent as the state’s third regional economic engine.”

The Authority may see the Central Valley as a “regional economic engine” but the initial decision to start in the valley was because of the high unemployment and economic need.

Training centers have been set up in the region and Fresno has been designated as the location of a Heavy Maintenance Facility that will create thousands of new jobs in this predominantly agriculture economy.

According to The Authority, “Since construction started on the high speed rail system, more than 10,000 construction jobs have gone to Central Valley residents and men and women in disadvantaged communities.”

The Merced to Bakersfield section is called the “starter line” and will cover 171 miles. The 119 mile route between north of Madera to Shafter, the backbone, will be the first section to be completed.

Within that 119 mile stretch are the four first HSR stations to be built in Madera, Fresno, Hanford and Bakersfield.

Los Angeles and San Francisco are considered the book ends to the Central Valley line and their stations will be under constructions as the tracks are laid in the Central Valley.

The SF to LA route when complete will take less than three hours.

Phase Two will expand the system to connect Sacramento to San Diego.

Where are they now?

HSR has spent $7.2 billion dollars so far but as of yet has laid no track. The Authority said that when they receive their next installment of $3.1 billion they will put out a request for bids from engineering companies who can lay track for a HSR system.

Total cost for HSR from Los Angeles to San Francisco is predicted to be more than $100 billion. – a far cry from the original $10 billion voted for in 2008.

According to the Authority, “We are now past the midpoint of construction and are working on final design refinements and mitigating schedule impacts. We have substantially completed all major design elements for the 119-mile Central Valley Segment.”

Former Governor Jerry Brown, Former Director of the EPA Gina McCarthy, Former Mayor of Fresno Ashley Swearengin and other dignitaries sign a ceremonial rail in January of 2015

The timeline for completing the 171 mile section from Merced to Bakersfield is 2033.

The Authority said that the purchasing of the train sets is underway and a model will be available to experience at this year’s State Fair.

In a children’s coloring book handed out at the open house there was a bubble at the bottom of a word search saying “Fun Fact: California High-Speed Rail is the first high-speed rail project in the United States.”

This might end up being a Funny Fact when the Los Angeles to Vegas High-Speed Rail finishes before the first train of the California HSR’s leaves the station.

According to Nevada’s Department of Transportation website, “At 186+ miles per hour, trains will take passengers from Las Vegas, NV, to Rancho Cucamonga, CA, in just 2 hours and 10 minutes, twice as fast as the average drive time. Brightline West broke ground in early 2024 with an ambitious schedule of being open in time for the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games in 2028.”

California’s HSR broke ground at an elaborate ceremony in Fresno in January of 2015. Just the testing track for their first train isn’t scheduled until 2028.

And if past is prologue, even that will be a heavy lift.

3 thoughts on “High Speed Rail Authority asks locals, “What do you want your train station to look like?”

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  1. Who f***ing cares? What we want is transportation; evidently that is not the ultimate goal! We should su the rail “authority” for its ineptitude!

  2. It should be noted that the $10 billion voted for was to start construction. It was never said that this would be the total cost. It was also never expected that there would be so many delays caused by lawsuits, but that’s life.

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