Environmental Impact Report released for SF to SJ section of high-speed rail project

An artist rendering of a section of of the San Francisco to San Jose, Calif., high-speed rail project. (California High-Speed Rail Authority via Bay City News)

The final environmental impact report is now complete for the section between San Francisco and San Jose of California's high-speed rail project. 

The California High-Speed Rail Authority released the final report Friday on the possible environmental impacts of the roughly 49-mile northern leg of the rail system, which will extend through major population centers in the Bay Area.

The report builds on the previous May approval of the San Jose to Merced project section to complete the environmental analysis stage in Northern California, project spokesperson Anthony Lopez said in a statement.

To reduce adverse environmental impact, the project section will blend with the existing Caltrain system, including using the two-track configuration, incorporating boarding platforms at stations shared with Caltrain, and using existing transportation corridors and rights-of-way, according to the report.

Once it's completed, people will be able to travel between San Francisco and San Jose in about 30 minutes. As the northern Bay Area terminus of the rail system, the project section also helps connect the Bay Area to the rest of the state via San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

"The capacity of California's intercity transportation system, including San Francisco, the Peninsula, and South Bay, is insufficient to meet existing and future travel demand," said the report.

With a growing population and job opportunities in the region, completing this project section will help keep pace with the increasing commuting demand between San Francisco and the South Bay.

The whole project was kick-started in 2008 when California voters approved a $9.95 billion bond measure to support high-speed rail across the state. It would run from San Diego to Sacramento by design and was initially set to be completed by 2030. The timeline has been extended due to cost overruns and delays.

SEE ALSO: BART will raise ride fare July 1, riders slow to return

The San Francisco to San Jose section will consist of three stops, the Fourth and King Street station in San Francisco (interim), the Millbrae BART Station and the Diridon station in San Jose. The northern track is planned to ultimately be extended to the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco.

According to the report, the proposed preferred alternative would result in displacements of 14 residential units and three community and public facilities. It may also cause direct impacts on more than 100 acres of habitat for special-status plant species. 

The authority's Board of Directors will consider the final document for approval during its two-day board meeting on Aug. 17 and 18.