WASCO, Calif. (KGET) — The United States Department of Transportation awarded $24 million to the California High-Speed Rail Authority to reconstruct State Route 46 in order to safely build the high-speed rail through the area.
“High-speed rail is about connecting Californians and our diverse communities,” said Brian Kelly, Authority CEO. “As we build this transformative system, we continue to work and collaborate with communities throughout the state to create jobs, spur economic development and improve quality of life.”
The grant is made possible through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program.
The money will be used to:
- Lower State Route 46 to properly accommodate trucks passing under the railroad to approximately 16’6″ clearance and expand about 0.4 miles of it to a four-lane cross section;
- Enhance ADA accessibility by building a new sidewalk, curb ramps, storm water improvements and a utility corridor south of State Route 46;
- Build an efficient roundabout to enhance safety across the freight corridor;
- Enhance adjacent properties affected by the project and work with the City to prepare them for improved land use and economic development.
“This funding will resolve a tremendous financial burden for the City and help us move our community forward with confidence,” said Scott Hurlbert, Wasco city manager.
This grant supports work on the rail specified to begin in the Central Valley given the area’s economic disadvantage and poor air quality compared to the rest of California, according to the Authority. Merced to Bakersfield is the backbone of the California High-Speed Rail, and the entire statewide passenger system, the Authority said.
The agency also said it has created more than 6,000 construction jobs along the 119 miles currently underway in the Central Valley and 7,100 trees have been planted to suck up emissions. Additionally, crews have recycled 95% of construction waste, which equals 196,000 tons of waste not in a landfill today, and officials claim they have protected more than 3,000 acres of agricultural land in order to fulfill these goals.