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Get a 3D First Look at Merced’s High-Speed Rail Station Design
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By The Merced Focus
Published 4 weeks ago on
April 19, 2024

Get a sneak peek at the early design concepts of the California High Speed Rail station in Merced at an open house event on May 2. (High Speed Rail Authority)

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Merced residents can get a sneak peek and offer input on early design concepts of the California High Speed Rail station coming to downtown during an open house event next month.

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Brianna Vaccari

The Merced FOCUS

Merced’s station will be unlike any other station in the San Joaquin Valley because it will feature connections to Amtrak San Joaquins and Altamont Commuter Express Rail trains all in one place.

Staff with the High Speed Rail Authority on Thursday, May 2, will bring to town a 3D printed model of a preliminary design of the station. HSR staff will give a short presentation on the design project and will remain on hand to answer questions. Residents will be able to provide feedback through comment cards or on laptops or tablets.

Merced leaders over the years have shown strong support for the project, saying it will transform the city and region.

“We’re excited to have high speed rail be part of our community because we’re the only station within the first segment that will have three cars going to one station,” Merced Deputy City Manager Frank Quintero recently told the Merced City Council.

While construction of the nation’s first bullet train hasn’t reached Merced, its station will be the northern point of the first 171-mile segment through the San Joaquin Valley, starting in Bakersfield in the south.

The Fresno Bee reported latest cost estimates for construction of the first segment range between $29.8 billion and $32.9 billion. The project is expected to carry passengers between 2030 and 2033.

For more information, see the event flier here.

Station Will Have Two Levels

Preliminary design renderings show the Merced station – bordered by 15th and 16th Streets and O and R Streets – will have two different levels. The renderings show a thoroughfare for the ACE Rail and Union Pacific Railroad at ground level and an above-grade platform for High Speed Rail and Amtrak trains.

The theory behind the design is to allow passengers to take High Speed Rail from Bakersfield to Merced, walk across the platform and transfer to an Amtrak train to get to Oakland or Sacramento, said Ben Lichty, a principal transportation planner for HSR, in an interview with the Merced FOCUS.

“I think that the opportunities for those different rail lines coming together is exciting in Merced, which is different and makes it stand out from some of the other Central Valley stations,” Lichty said.

The design so far also features connections with other transportation modes, such as parking lots, connections for local and regional bus services and accessible accommodations for people with disabilities.

Besides the 3D printed model, the May 2 event will also feature design renderings, which may evolve over time. Lichty stressed the designs aren’t final, and the approved design likely will require additional environmental review.

“Residents should come out to this event because they love Merced, they love their community and they’re excited about the connectivity to the state of California and what High Speed Rail offers the city of Merced and the region,” Lichty said.

“The High Speed Rail project is a long-term project, and the input we get now really has an opportunity to influence and impact transportation in Merced and transportation in California for decades to come.”

About the Author

Brianna Vacarri is the accountability and government watchdog reporter for the Central Valley Journalism Collaborative.

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