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Development Process

The Merced to Fresno section of the California High-Speed Rail system is currently in stage 5 of the development process:

Stage 1: Scoping
First stage is the environmental review process, when the project and various alignment alternatives and station options are "scoped out". At cities within each of the high-speed train system's nine project sections, public meetings are held to present potential alignments and station sites, explain the EIR/EIS process and receive comments. Also, the Agency Coordination Plan outlines the roles of all participating public agencies.

Stage 2: Alternatives Analysis
Not legally mandated in the EIR/EIS process, the Authority is including an extra step called the Alternatives Analysis ("AA"), expanding public input opportunities while refining the alternatives after scoping. The AA report is used to help identify the alignment, station and maintenance facility location options that may be feasible and to provide a screening evaluation of options for study in the preparation of EIR/EIS documents. The AA report is made available for public comment and is presented to the Authority Board before becoming a basis for the Draft EIR/EIS.

Stage 3: Draft EIR/EIS
During this stage, alternatives from the AA report are refined, environmental impacts that may result from the alternatives are identified and analyzed. Measures to mitigate adverse environmental impacts are studied and presented in a Draft EIR/EIS, which may identify a preferred alternative. The Draft EIR/EIS is circulated for public review and comment for 45-60 days.

Stage 4: Final EIR/EIS
Final EIR/EIS

Stage 5: Right of Way
This process includes all the pre-construction activities, such as identifying what construction work needs to be done early on to reduce construction risks during the process, site preparation, developing the legal, commercial and technical elements of bid documents, advertising for and selecting the construction contractors, system elements and the system operator. The City of Merced, with a HSR grant, has started the station planning process. Expected to take three years to plan, the process will include extensive outreach to and input from the community.

Stage 6: Construction Procurement
This process includes all the pre-construction activities, such as identifying what construction work needs to be done early on to reduce construction risks during the process, site “clearing and grubbing,” developing the legal, commercial and technical elements of bid documents and their advertising, as well as selecting the contractors and the system operator.

Stage 7: Construction
All the various elements of the high-speed train can now be built, including the track, stations and maintenance facilities, the trains, the signaling and communications systems, the central control center, the power systems and more.

Stage 8: Testing and Commissioning
The main operating elements of the train will be tested and proved on an approximately 100-mile section of track in the Central Valley. As each section becomes operational and connected to its adjacent sections, system-wide testing and training will be performed before full passenger service begins.


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