SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), and Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) applauded today’s recommendation by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to restore the Merced Station in the latest revision of the Authority’s 2016 Business Plan. Under the recommendation, the Authority will construct track connecting Merced with the rest of the Initial Operating Segment, eliminating a proposed seven year delay. The recommendation is now to bring service online to Merced and Fresno simultaneously, connecting both to San Jose.
“I was seriously dismayed by the Authority’s earlier announcement to delay service to Merced,” said Gray. “Our community has provided significant support to the High-Speed Rail project from its inception – always with the understanding that the Merced Station would be first in line. With this new commitment from the Authority, our region will be among the first to see tangible improvements, cutting commute times to San Jose to just 42 minutes by rail.”
The recommendation also includes connectivity planning and support for system improvements to ACE Rail and the San Joaquin JPA (Amtrak) to provide greater connectivity for High-Speed Rail with the Merced to Sacramento corridor and the Central Valley to parts of the East Bay not served by High-Speed Rail. Gray credited the coalition of local groups and officials who provided feedback on the Authority’s earlier proposal for the new recommendation.
This is a crucial first step in linking the San Joaquin and Silicon Valleys so that we can continue, in partnership with UC Merced, to support our interconnected economic resources with the high-tech industries in the Bay Area,” continued Gray. “Greater mobility between our regions will provide access to the rapid job growth and high wages associated with occupations in the science, technology, engineering, and math sectors now synonymous with Silicon Valley.”
Galgiani echoed Gray’s sentiments about the impact this project will have on Central Valley commuters.
“Extending the Central Valley High-Speed Rail line to Merced sets the stage for providing ‘one-seat rides’ for commuters from the Central Valley to job centers in the Silicon Valley and Bay Area,” said Galgiani. “I have always envisioned connecting HSR in Merced with the ‘Altamont Commuter Express’ (ACE) system from Merced to Modesto and Santa Clara. Passengers riding the ACE system can then exit the ACE train, walk across an already existing platform, and, within minutes, board a newly electrified ‘Caltrain’ system traveling from Santa Clara into San Francisco.”
Cannella also had comments on the revised plan to put Merced in the Initial Operating Segment.
“As we are looking at significant investments in California’s transportation infrastructure, it is important that we ensure that all parts of our state realize the benefit,” said Senator Cannella. “A High-Speed Rail station in Merced is an important piece of that puzzle where we can ensure that the Central Valley is able to be connected with our population centers and provide our constituents with an expedient way to use public transportation.”