Calif. bullet train officials OK route between San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area

Environmental work behind the 90-mile connecting the Valley to the Bay Area is now done. Here’s what comes next.

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority certified the key environmental document paving the way for a new, 90-mile segment between San Jose and Merced via Pacheco Pass.

This means that environmental work has been completed on nearly 400 of the 500-mile Phase 1 alignment from San Francisco to Anaheim. The segments that still need to be cleared environmentally are from San Jose to San Francisco, Los Angeles to Anaheim, and Palmdale to Burbank.


The environmental impact report for the first of those is expected to be approved sometime this year, with the other two coming in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

The EIR for the section between Burbank and L.A. was certified earlier this year.

Four project alignments were studied for the San Jose-to-Merced segment, with differences between San Jose and Gilroy. All the alternatives included about fifteen miles of tunnels through the Pacheco Pass in the Central Valley.

The board selected “Alternative 4” as the preferred alternative – see map below. It takes a big turn just south of Gilroy, after emerging from a tunnel west of Casa de Fruta and before pulling into the planned Gilroy station. From there, the alignment is mostly at grade through Gilroy, Morgan Hill, and San Martin, all the way into San Jose’s Diridon Station.

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