High-speed rail construction ramping up in Fresno

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Construction work on the high-speed rail project through Fresno is picking up steam, and will impact traffic throughout the summer. (KFSN)

Construction work on the high-speed rail project through Fresno is picking up steam, and will impact traffic throughout the summer.

Construction on the project is centered in Fresno and stretches both north and south, and HSR Authority CEO Jeff Morales told the Fresno City Council much more is coming.

"You will see this summer," he said. "You won't be able to go much of anywhere in the city, in the county and heading down into the valley without seeing visible signs of high-speed rail being built in the Valley."

One big impact will be on Highway 180 between G and H Streets near Downtown Fresno.

"Traffic will be impacted there will be some delays, we will be making lane shifts so that we can do work underneath the 180," Tony Tinoco with the HSR Authority said. "We will be constructing a large concrete box that will be part of the Fresno trench where our train will travel into downtown Fresno."

High-Speed Rail Board Chairman Dan Richard says high-speed trains should be running between Fresno and San Francisco within 9 years.

"This first connection from the Central Valley to Silicon Valley, which we can do, can open up opportunities to private sector investment which can open up the system all the way to Los Angeles," he said.

The hope is to connect to LA within 15 years, but City Council Member Steve Brandau wanted reassurance the project would actually be finished.

"One of my worries over the years has been we build up the impact of Fresno," he said. "The ability of the project to sustain itself to completion might leave Fresno in the lurch."

Richard remains confident the state, federal and private financing for the $64 billion project will come through, and Fresno is already seeing the results.

"Our message is high-speed rail is happening and it's very, very important for Fresno," he said. We are already seeing benefits for Fresno, with the employment associated with the construction. A Recent study said unemployment here for the first time has dropped into single digits."
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