This section of the California High Speed Rail system passes through rural, suburban and urbanized areas of southern California as well as, the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains. The alternatives being studied traverse approximately 40 miles connecting the high desert communities of Palmdale and Lancaster with the employment centers of Los Angeles and Burbank. To make this connection requires 12 to 18-mile long, deep tunnels under the San Gabriel mountains which can reach as high as 6,000 feet.
Circlepoint as part of an interdisciplinary team is leading the environmental documentation (CEQA/NEPA) process which includes managing a wide array of experts preparing complex technical analyses. Environmental issues associated with the project are unique and wide ranging, from environmental justice issues associated with air quality, noise and land use impacts in high desert and urban Los Angeles communities, to hydrogeology and biological impacts to important habitats and fully protected fish species. One alternative even includes realigning over a mile of the Pacific Crest Trail. (a National Scenic Trail).
Building long tunnels results in a large amount of rock and soil that needs to be removed and either hauled away or reused, creating a unique challenge and potentially significant traffic, noise and air quality impacts during construction. Circlepoint working with HSR authority staff developed an approach to determine the truck traffic necessary to transport the tunnel spoils material and accurately assess local and regional traffic, noise and air quality impacts from this unique construction activity.
Because a large portion of the project alternatives traverse the Angeles National Forest, close coordination with the US Forest Service is required to ensure the environmental documentation prepared will meet their needs for issuing a Special Use Permit to construct the project within (mostly under) the national forest.
Other state and federal agencies actively involved in development of the environmental documentation include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Regional Water Quality Control Board.