California High-Speed RailThis week, the California High Speed Rail Authority issued its biannual Project Update Report to the State Legislature.  The report provides a synopsis of the Authority’s funding, environmental review, land acquisition (eminent domain), and construction activities for the California High Speed Rail Project.  


Of note, the Authority advises that the Project’s first operating segment is scheduled to commence operations in 2022 (from Madera to the San Fernando Valley/Burbank), and full operations between San Francisco and Los Angeles are scheduled to start in 2029.  In the report the Authority acknowledges that several risks and challenges remain, but describes efforts to manage and mitigate any risks.


Recognizing that its schedule has been delayed because of the slow pace of property acquisitions, the Authority contends that the pace should move quicker now because, “the majority of the learning curve and teething issues have been worked through . . .”  For the initial construction segments of the Merced to Fresno Section (Construction Packages 1A and 1B), the Authority reports that as of March 1, 2015 they’ve acquired 105 of necessary parcels (28%), and that Resolutions of Necessity have been adopted for another 118 parcels (authorizing the filing of eminent domain lawsuits).  And, of the 141 parcels required for Construction Package 1C, the Authority has made initial written offers to 112 of these parcels.  The Authority also notes that Caltrans has also begun acquisition for the related Highway 99 Realignment Project between Ashlan Avenue to Clinton Avenue.


The Authority advises that some initial construction work, including utility relocations and demolition of existing structures, has begun on CP1A and 1B.  However, the Authority reports that while design for these segments is progressing (with the contractor completing 60% – 90% design plans), major construction activities have been delayed because of the slow pace of property acquisition.


For the next phase of construction, the Fresno to Bakersfield Section, the Authority reports that it is proceeding with Construction Package 2 – 3 after obtaining the necessary environmental approvals.  This is an approximately 65 mile section beginning at American Avenue in Fresno traveling southerly toward the Tulare-Kern County line.  The Authority has identified 545 parcels for acquisition in Construction Package 2-3, and advises that nearly 500 parcels have been appraised.  With the appraisals complete, the Authority expects to proceed with making offers and seeking acquisition of the necessary parcels.


After many years of planning, debate and litigation, construction of the California High Speed Rail Project is now moving forward.  In Fresno and beyond, many property and business owners in High Speed Rail’s path are relying on the attorneys at California Eminent Domain Law Group to ensure they are paid maximum compensation.