The Surface Transportation Board has approved a portion of the California high-speed rail system stretching between Bakersfield and Fresno.
A digest of the board’s decision reads: “The California High-Speed Rail Authority is authorized to construct a 114-mile high-speed passenger rail line between Fresno and Bakersfield, Cal., subject to environmental mitigation conditions.”
The Sacramento Bee reports that the STB board voted 2-1 to approve the plan, with Ann Begeman dissenting. A spokeswoman for the California High Speed Rail Authority told the Los Angeles Times that the decision was “the final clearance for construction.”
The decision does include a few final mitigation steps that must be followed, including restricting the use of pile drivers within 300 feet of Bakersfield’s Mercy Hospital.
The high speed system has faced questions about its financial feasibility after initial cost projections ballooned to $68 billion dollars.
Last year a Superior Court judge cut off California’s ability to sell bonds to fund the project partially, stating that it was unclear how the state would pay for the remainder. That decision was overturned two weeks ago by an Appeals Court, meaning the bond funding will now proceed.