An Attempted Look at High Speed Rail Construction in North Fresno

Is 2016 finally the year for High Speed Rail (HSR) in California? Construction has been underway on the boring part for over a year now – relocation of utilities, and demolishing of abandoned buildings. However, for most people, that type of invisible work doesn’t count. It’s hard to tell if a hole being dug in a street is for HSR or one of 200 other possible reasons, after all.

We want to see real construction – that means bridges, tracks, tunnels, etc.

And so a couple of weekends ago, I decided to tour the High Speed Rail construction sites in Fresno to take a close up look at the real progress. I’ve done this tour before, for about three years now, and each time came up with a big pile of nothing. Was the January 2016 edition any better?

Let’s take a look. 

Construction is supposedly focused on two parts right now. On the north end of Fresno, at the Fresno/Madera border, where the rail line will cross the river, and then in downtown Fresno to the south, where the station will eventually be.

Today I’ll post pictures for the northern part. Later this week, I’ll post pictures from downtown, including the relocation of the Greyhound Station.

San Joaquin River Crossing

Unfortunately, the satellite images from the area are from April, so I couldn’t quite tell which access road would get me closest to the fun. I ended up approaching in 4 directions, starting on the Madera side.

Attempt 1.

So it turns out that Road 33 isn’t as much a road as it is a farm driveway. It isn’t paved, and it made me feel like I was trespassing, as it brought me right up to a home. However, these folks do have an amazing view.

Of the construction? I couldn’t tell. It would have required me parking and walking through their orchard.

1 is where I took the picture, 2 is the house. 3 is where I would have parked and walked to 4 and probably have gotten a great view – but I didn’t want to do this.

Attempt 2.

Hm, maybe we can get a good view from under 99, looking to the river? The goal: reach 1

Sadly, a roadblock emerged at point 2.

Foiled again.

No worries. I’m sure the Fresno side is more exciting.

Attempt 3.

Once again the goal was to reach number 1, but I would have accepted number 2.

Instead, I was stopped stopped at point 3. Google promised me a road that no longer exists.

That roadblock isn’t compliant with signage standards either.

Attempt 4.

This location looked to be the most promising originally, so I saved the best for last.

The goal of course, to access the river at 1. Potentially by parking at 2 and walking.

You get there by going through a very neglected/forgotten residential neighborhood, which Google Maps used to identify as Highway City, but now simply says Herndon. You know it’s been there awhile because their tiny grid replicates the one downtown, which is oriented with the rail line as a reference point, rather than the equator.

Here is their attempt at traffic calming:

However, once I got to 2, it looked like that wasn’t going to happen.

So after driving around in circles, I managed to see zero construction. Not that the day was a waste though. It’s the reason I stopped by the new shopping center with the Tesla Supercharger, and I also checked out the progress of some trail extensions, which I will be posting.

It appears that for now, the only way to see what is going on in this area is by having a media invite, or by accessing the project Facebook page.

They have been pretty active. Here’s what I wanted to see for myself, which they posted today:

I suggest subscribing to their Facebook page for construction updates, as they’re clearly doing a better job than I am.

In a few days I’ll post my downtown pictures, which at least allowed multiple takes of the action. That action includes the demolition of the Tuolumne Bridge, the relocation of the Greyhound station, and a detailed look at the right of way. No real structure though, that’s all at the river.

As a bonus, I was able to get multiple shots from way up high. Here’s a teaser, showing the Fulton Mall:

3 Replies to “An Attempted Look at High Speed Rail Construction in North Fresno”

    1. I've had some great luck with the Fresno Pacific Tower – been up there like five times now. I was taking pictures of the Fulton Mall and as I walked by I noticed the door was open. I just happened to be there at the exact time they were giving a tour.

    2. Thanks for the info, hope I get as lucky as you! Fresno is really something else when looked at from high ground. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

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