Backers of a planned high-speed rail system in California have agreed to pursue environmentally sustainable goals for the proposed passenger train system. The California High-Speed Rail Authority signed a memorandum of understanding in July with four federal agencies involved with the project, outlining their plan to protect public health, limit impacts to natural resources and avoid pollution and excessive energy use.
Other goals outlined by the plan include promoting sustainable housing and development, integrating high-speed rail stations into surrounding neighborhoods, promoting connectivity with multiple forms of transportation, protecting ecosystems and agriculture and reducing the amount of emissions per passenger using the system.
The new agreement sets out a work plan for each of the participating agencies to collaborate on sustainable goals. However, the project has recently hit snags, including a delay of key environmental reports after two federal agencies expressed concern about the railway’s proposed route and the resignation of one of the rail authority’s board members in July.
If completed, the high-speed rail system will transport passengers across 800 miles of California at speeds up to 220 mph. It would connect the San Francisco Bay Area with Los Angeles and San Diego, while passing through inland cities like Fresno. Construction of the train system’s first phase is planned to begin in the state’s Central Valley in 2012.