Merced County Times Newspaper
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Residents gather to hear more about High Speed Rail Station

 

By Walsh, Cassady, & Walsh

The California High Speed Rail Authority and the City of Merced hosted an Open House to provide an update about the Merced HSR Station on Thursday, May 7.
The Merced Station is envisioned to be an integrated intermodal station serving high-speed rail, San Joaquin Amtrak, and Altamont Corridor Express (ACE)External Link, according to the HSR website. The purpose of the Open House was to inform residents of current activities and plans and to solicit input.
The event drew a near capacity crowd of residents of all ages. Presenters from the High Speed Rail Authority gave an update on High Speed Rail construction and information on the preliminary designs for the Merced Station. Representatives from the City of Merced, the ACE train and Amtrak were also present.
Prior to the meeting, Margaret Cederoth, CHSRA director of Planning and Sustainability, had stated, “Every day, thousands are working to deliver the largest and greenest infrastructure project in the nation. We are proud of our work to bring a truly high-speed rail system, certified at speeds of over 200 mph that is powered by 100 percent renewable energy.”
During the update, she shared the following information: 119 miles of high speed rail are under construction; 52 miles are in advanced design; 115 structures have been built along with 211 overcrossings; plans are taking into account issues such as railroad alignment, freeway alignment, and wildlife crossings. Passenger service to the Merced Station is planned to be tested in 2030 and operational in 2033. All rail services through Merced will use this station.
The Merced Station design is still in the planning stages. It will have similarities with other high speed rails stations that reflect the identity of CHSR, including the canopy, the viaduct, and signage. The goal is a seamless design for passengers so that they can intuitively access and use station areas. The stations will be created from sustainable materials, and be air conditioned wherever possible. Parking and surrounding land use will be developed in phases as ridership increases and communities respond to the changes the station will bring.
Frank Quintero, the assistant city manager and City of Merced liaison with the CHSRA, provided the message he has shared at other meetings, “Three trains will use one station. This will be a major economic catalyst to the region. It will change the face of Merced.”
In addition to providing an update, HSR staff focused on taking input from the community. HSR displays were arranged by theme so attendees could address specific areas and provide input to specific staff. Attendees were asked to indicate where they would be coming from to use the station and what kind of transportation they would use to get to there. They were encouraged to leave comments on post-it notes on the displays.
Concerns involving several areas were expressed including the following: HSR construction resulting in removal of several buildings including the McCombs Youth Center (leased by Boys & Girls Club of Merced County) and the Senior Center; the environment created by the large parking lot area; pedestrian and vehicle access to and around the station; and the sound impacts on downtown.
HSR staff took notes from conversations and encouraged attendees to provide additional information and concerns to the HSR design team through the website.

For more information visit the High Speed Rail website: https://hsr.ca.gov/

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