The California High Speed Rail Authority held an open house on Thursday at Alhambra City Hall to share its plans for the high-speed rail project, with special attention paid to the portion connecting Los Angeles and San Diego.
The open house featured a video presentation, as well as a line of placards explaining the planning process, the amount of funding accumulated thus far, the paths that are being considered, and the comparison of noise levels of coming from at-grade, above-grade and below-grade rails.
The CHSRA expects to start the building process with 123 miles of track in the Central Valley. The tracks will extend from Madera, just north of Fresno, down to Bakersfield. Construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2012. After the completion of the 123 miles of track, which the CHSRA described as "the backbone," it will then be decided if construction will continue up north to the Bay Area, or down south towards Los Angeles. The rail is expected to extend from Sacramento to San Diego upon completion.
Explaining why the project is being approached in a piece-meal fashion, Regional Manager Jose Martinez said that construction is dependent on funding.
"What we do will be contingent on funding. So it's being built incrementally," Martinez said. "We start with this core at the Central Valley, but essentially we have to go to where many of the people are, in northern and southern parts of the state."
The project currently has approximately $6 billion in state and federal funding. The CHSRA estimates that the entirely of the project will cost about $43 billion. Funding has been a hot button topic as of late, as Congress had eliminated subsidies for local high-speed rail projects back in April.
The majority of the placards traced the proposed pathways going from East Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley. In the propose routes, the train will enter East LA through Union Station, then connect with either the 10 Freeway or the 60 Freeway.
Another set of placards compared the varying noise levels of railways on different grades. According to the graphics, the noise coming from an aerial rail would be one to two decibels higher than that of a ground-level rail, while the noise from a trench rail would be five to seven decibels lower than that of a ground-level rail. For a train going below 160 mph, the placement of a 12 foot sound barrier along the sides of the rail would reduce noise by five to nine decibels. Putting the numbers in perspective, the graphics stated that a rise of 10 decibels is perceived by the human ear as a doubling of the original sound.
More open houses are planned for the upcoming weeks, with one in Rosemead on June 29 at the Rosemead Community Recreation Center. A listing of schedules and locations can be found at the CHSRA's events calendar.