California high speed rail breaks ground

$68 billion high-speed rail project is underway.

With California Gov. Jerry Brown leading the way, a ceremony Tuesday in downtown Fresno marked the start of construction on the high-speed rail project, more than six years after voters approved a $9.9 billion bond act that will help fund the system.

Rather than donning hard hats and shovels, however, Brown and other dignitaries signed ceremonial pieces of steel rails to signal that the project is underway. The invitation-only ceremony took place at the future site of Fresno’s high-speed rail station on the northeast corner of Tulare and G streets, while a small but boisterous gathering of protesters punctuated the event with occasional shouts and chants.

“This is the day we commemorate the beginning of the nation’s first high-speed rail project that promises to connect Northern, Central and Southern California like never before,” Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said. “This project establishes Fresno as the central cog, the essential connecting point between Northern and Southern California.”

Demolition of buildings along the first 29-mile construction segment between Fresno and Madera has been going on since last summer, and major construction is likely weeks away.

Still, California High-Speed Rail Authority board chairman Dan Richard said the ceremony marked a demarcation between years of talk and planning and readiness for construction. “Now we build,” he said. “We are entering a period of sustained construction on the nation’s first high-speed rail system for the next five years in the Central Valley, and in the decade beyond that we will be building across California.”

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Source: Fresno Bee

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