California High-Speed Rail Authority members will learn more this week about long-awaited environmental and engineering reports for high-speed trains in the San Joaquin Valley.
The authority's board meets Thursday in Bakersfield, where its staff will provide updates on complex environmental-impact reports for segments from Merced to Fresno and Fresno to Bakersfield.
The two Valley sections are planned to be the first pieces built in a proposed system of 220-mph trains linking Northern and Southern California.
The EIRs, being prepared by engineering consultants working for the authority, are required under both state and federal law for the massive transportation project. Draft versions of the reports likely will be issued this month for 45 days of public comment. Comments from residents, businesses, city and county officials and state and federal agencies will be evaluated by engineers; any changes that make their way into final reports will be considered late this year or in early 2012.
The draft reports are expected to offer the first formal recommendations for a preferred route for high-speed trains to zip through the Valley between Merced and Bakersfield.