It’s been nearly six months since officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking for California’s high speed rail project in Fresno. But as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports construction crews Tuesday started building the project’s first bridge in Madera.
After months of underground work, it’s the obvious sign of construction on California’s $68-billion bullet train project. Over the next eight to 10 months crews will assemble the viaduct over the Fresno River and Highway 145.
Jeff Morales is the CEO of the rail authority, which has faced big political and legal challenges since its conception, as well as delays.
MORALES: “We’ve got almost $2.5 billion worth of work under contract and what we’re doing here is the first signs of that. It’s just the beginning of massive construction that’ll be kicking into gear this summer and years to come.”
The first 29-mile strip from Madera to Downtown Fresno will include two other bridges, including one over the San Joaquin River. Diana Gomez is the Central Valley regional director for the bullet train.
GOMEZ: “For those that are coming on Amtrak they’ll be able to see as the structure is being built. It’s an exciting feeling that we’re finally able to show that yes we are actually constructing.”
Even though work on the project is now underway, the rail line has major funding hurdles in front of it, including where to find the billions of dollars needed to finish the project. Once the train is fully operational a trip could take less than two and half hours from Los Angeles to San Francisco.