The California High-Speed Rail Authority released its updated draft business plan this week. The plan noted a significant change in that construction on the rail link between the Bay Area and Los Angeles will now start in Northern California and continue towards Bakersfield. Construction was originally slated to start in the South. According to the Authority’s CEO, the shift to the north is based upon cost factors, as well as construction time. The 2014 plan estimated a cost of $31 billion for the southern line from Los Angeles to Merced, whereas the revised plan estimates a cost of $20 billion to run from San Jose to Bakersfield. The cost difference is based on the amount of engineering and tunneling required for the LA to Merced portion. The plan anticipates an operational line in Northern California by 2025.
The shift will certainly benefit San Jose, Silicon Valley, as well as the Central Valley communities that the rail link will serve. Based on the plan, the travel time between Fresno and San Jose will be 60 minutes. This opens up substantial new commute opportunities for Central Valley communities into the San Jose as a gateway into the Silicon Valley. The plan has not been without opposition. However, should the plan be adopted, the California construction industry as a whole will certainly be the beneficiary of such a large scale project not only for the rail construction itself, but also the anticipated ancillary projects and housing along the line.