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Public has until Friday to voice opinion on high-speed rail placement
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The time to chime in on the Merced to Sacramento section of the proposed High Speed Rail corridor is drawing to an end, as Friday is the final day to comment during the initial scoping period.
The exact path of the high-speed rails has yet to be determined, but planners are currently examining two different alignments through the Turlock area. The rails will likely be placed either adjacent to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line, which runs through downtown Denair, or the Union Pacific Railroad, which runs through downtown Turlock along Golden State Boulevard.
At full build-out, eight trains an hour would travel each way along the lines through the valley. The trains are projected to be quieter than existing freight trains, despite traveling at speeds approaching 220 mph, as they will run on welded tracks and not produce the click-clack sound of traditional rail.
The high-speed tracks will also be grade-separated throughout the 800-mile run, and will require no street-level railroad crossings. The tracks will run either underground or pass above existing infrastructure. A possibility for new road overpasses above ground level tracks is also an option in some areas, planners said.
Nearby stations will be positioned in Merced and Sacramento, and an additional stop is likely for Modesto, either near the current Amtrak station or the old, downtown transportation center depending on which alignment is chosen. A high-speed rail trip from Modesto to Los Angeles would take less than two hours, at a cost of approximately $46.
While the Merced to Sacramento section of the High-Speed Rail project is considered crucial — mainly because it will connect the train network to the state capitol — its construction will lag behind the segments deemed most important to the network, those connecting San Francisco to Anaheim.
Construction remains on track to start the $42 billion rail system in 2012, and the system will be rideable — though not built out locally — by 2017.
Written comments can be mailed to Dan Leavitt, Deputy Director, Merced-to-Sacramento, California High Speed Rail Authority, 925 L St., Suite 1425, Sacramento CA 95814. Comments may also be e-mailed to using the subject line "Merced to Sacramento HST."
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.