Despite continued efforts to derail the bullet train and the decision to build the train to San Jose first, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has been authorized to acquire its first two pieces of property in downtown Los Angeles.
Last Friday, the state Public Works Board, which oversees the acquisition of property and fiscal matters for the rail authority, approved the purchase of land at 718 and 728 Commercial St. along the Hollywood freeway in downtown L.A.
Even though it’s a few years before the high-speed rail reaches L.A., the Commercial Street property will play a role in the future of the project. The two parcels will be used for building a run-through track at Union Station. Now, riders are delayed 15 to 20 minutes because the train must back up out of the station. A run-through track would allow the current trains to stop at the station’s platform and continue straight through.
The Union Station project is estimated to cost $2.75 billion. It includes building the pass-through tracks for the bullet train, local transit, and Amtrak, as well as other station and highway improvements, according to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. However, the state rail authority is likely to cover a majority of the costs, though the specific amount is still being negotiated.
The LA Union Station is part of two rail segments, a 12-mile segment that starts in Burbank and a 29-mile segment that ends in Anaheim. The $64-billion rail project isn’t expected to start operating in L.A. until 2029, but property acquisition has begun. The rail authority is likely to find that due to L.A.’s urbanization, the authority will have an even more difficult time acquiring the needed land than it is having in the northern segments of the project.
After five years of trying to buy property and acquire it through eminent domain, the authority only has 75% of the parcels for the 29-mile segment from Madera to Fresno. In the 118-mile Central Valley segment, they have only acquired a little over half.
Eminent domain is a legal process that allows government agencies to acquire private property for public use as long as just compensation is given. Eminent domain is pursued when the agencies and property owners cannot agree on a fair price.
Even though most of the focus is on acquiring property along the Fresno and Central Valley rail line segments, it now appears that the rail authority will start looking at property in L.A.
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