California High Speed Train: Merced to Fresno

The California High Speed Rail Authority (Authority) is planning, designing, building, and operating the first high-speed rail system in the nation, traveling from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours and reaching speeds over 200 miles per hour.


Why does this project matter?

When completed, the system will eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego, totaling 800 miles with up to 24 stations, creating clean-operating and modern transportation for millions of Californians, bolster economic growth and connecting the state like never before.

What is ESA doing to help?

As part of the design build team of Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons (TPZP), ESA is providing biological and archaeological surveying, monitoring, and reporting services to construct the first segment of the project, Construction Package 1 (Merced to Fresno). We are also providing on-call environmental services to the Authority for the rail segment from Fresno to Bakersfield, including regulatory permitting, archaeological surveys, and CEQA/NEPA services.

We are on the frontline, collaborating with TPZP and the Authority to solve many complex and unique environmental challenges, including ensuring and documenting mitigation compliance, processing permit amendments due to design changes, and using real-time data collection and GIS mapping as part of the compliance process.

Spanning such a large region, there are many biological and archaeological resource considerations to address, including:
• vernal pool and seasonal wetland habitats
• protected species, such as the California tiger salamander, San Joaquin kit fox, Swainson’s hawk, burrowing owl, Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew, and rare plants
• crossings of the San Joaquin and Fresno Rivers
• historical and archaeological resources in downtown Fresno
• compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (Built Environment Treatment Plan and Archaeological Treatment Plan)
• permit amendments during the design-build process to address design refinements

ESA addresses these challenging objectives by implementing a data collection system using tablet devices and geospatial software to track habitat disturbances as they occur, reporting directly into an online database for tracking mitigation compliance, as well as working closely with the Authority and design build contractors to find ways to minimize potential impacts.

The result is a more collaborative approach to implementing one of the state’s most complex construction projects, while ensuring environmental compliance occurs in an efficient, timely fashion.


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