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By Tina Fisher Cunningham
The Forde Files No 69 

fast rail: The Big picture

Shedding light on local issues.


While opponents believe the California High-Speed Rail (HSR) project to be a wasteful folly, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is moving the project along doggedly in small steps akin to building a cathedral in the Middle Ages, when frequently it took hundreds of years and generations of craftsmen to complete one glorious structure.

The Authority is building the massive project in a non-linear manner.

The plan includes Improvements at the HSR "bookends" of San Francisco and Los Angeles -- mostly, at this time, in the San Francisco area – that will integrate existing and new regional rail systems into the future High-Speed Rail. Subsequent extensions will add Sacramento and San Diego to the High-Speed Rail line.

The first new HSR track will be laid over a 29-mile stretch in the Central Valley, from Avenue 17 in Madera to East American Avenue in Fresno. The contractor is completing design work preparatory to construction.

The HSR contracts are awarded on a design-build basis, with private companies taking responsibility for their sections. In a joint venture, the companies Tutor Perini/Zachary/Parsons (TPZP) won the design-build contract for Construction Package One (CP 1), the Madera-Fresno segment.

Project and construction management for CP 1 is a joint venture by PGH Wong Engineering, Inc. and Harris & Associates (Wong+Harris).

The contractor Tutor Perini/Zachary/Parsons is finishing the design portion of CP 1, Authority spokesperson Lisa Alley told Forde Files on April 24. The work includes utility relocation, robots inspecting sewer lines and archeological investigations in downtown Fresno, followed by geotechnical soil drilling to determine how much dirt they will have to move.

"They have found [old] pots and pans and a doll," Alley said of the archeological investigations. "They will be finishing in the next two weeks."

The Authority is in the process of obtaining parcels of property in the Madera-Fresno section over which the HSR will run.

"We have to purchase 380 parcels on the 29-mile section," Alley said. "We have purchased some. We are helping property owners relocate."

The relocations include moving sections of Highway 99.

The Authority has established an apprentice program for HSR-generated employment opportunities.

"It's all happening at the same time in Fresno," she said.

The HSR railroad station in Fresno will be located near the Fulton Mall.


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