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Officials looking to accelerate high-speed rail progress in Southern California

Posted: July 1, 2014 6:26 p.m.
Updated: July 1, 2014 6:26 p.m.

Armed with a revenue stream in the form of cap-and-trade funds, officials with the California High-Speed Rail Authority are looking at accelerating a segment of the bullet train project from Burbank to Palmdale, which could pass through the Santa Clarita Valley.

The recently passed state budget set aside about $250 million in state cap-and-trade funds to the high-speed rail project, with an earmark for future funding as well.

The additional money will help the authority move forward with development of a route from Burbank to Palmdale, according to officials.

“The idea is that we’re connecting California at a faster pace,” authority spokeswoman Lisa Marie Alley said Tuesday.

In a letter dated June 14 and sent to state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, authority Chief Executive Officer Jeff Morales said the revenue would enable the authority to continue development and construction of the system in the Central Valley and accelerate work on the segment from Palmdale to Burbank “so that we would be building the initial operating segment from two directions, north to south, and south to north.”

A route from Palmdale to Burbank could pass through the Santa Clarita Valley, Alley said, but officials from the High-Speed Rail Authority are looking at gathering more feedback on the alignment the route should take.

“In the coming weeks, we’ll be announcing a series of public meetings, including one in Santa Clarita, to continue to gather that input from the public,” Alley said.

Several alignments have been proposed for the train should it pass through the Santa Clarita Valley, including routes through the Sand Canyon area.

Another option that has gained steam in recent months has been the idea of taking the train directly from Burbank to Palmdale by tunneling under the San Gabriel Mountains. That route would take it out of the Santa Clarita Valley entirely.

“We will be looking at the potential direct alignment in addition to other alignments in the corridor,” Alley said.

Voters originally approved the high-speed rail project in 2008 with the idea of connecting Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim to San Francisco, with links at other large population centers.

The train is projected to travel at speeds of up to 220 mph.
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