New Google satellite imagery for Fresno! (Fall 2017)

Posting updates about Google Maps satellite imagery in the Fresno region used to be a frequent topic on this blog. Thanks to the lack of clouds for half the year, Fresno was lucky in that new images were posted about twice a year, compared to some more populated area that only got an update every other year – or even less frequently. Basically, to provide the images, a satellite has to take hundreds of pictures, and then they are all blended together automatically to reveal a seamless image without clouds in the way. Since Fresno has so many clear days, it’s much easier to get the shots.

Or at least that was the case, because in all of 2016, Fresno saw no updates.

Here’s a look at the update history. The link is my post talking about it (although now those links are useless thanks to the Photobucket debacle).

(and a few older ones)

As you can see, pretty consistent!

Well, in 2017 we got two updates, with the most recent one showing up in December. Those images were taken on 8/7/2017 (it takes them a couple of months to process and update – that’s normal). There was also an update taken on 3/31/2017, which I noticed around July, but never got around to posting about.

But here’s a twist: Usually the images go up on the Google Earth platform first, and then a month or so later show up on general Google Maps (and dates that are less than perfect never migrate to Maps). However, this year, the images that show up in Google Maps are blended with a range of dates! What’s even more confusing is that in Google Maps, you’re not told what date the image is from.

This popped up thanks to construction progress.

IE: Let’s look at High Speed Rail construction over the San Joaquin River.

Google Maps shows this:

Great, that’s what construction looked like at the end of August.

But we drag maps towards downtown and get this…

Wait a second, that bridge began demolition in January 2016!

What’s super confusing is that you get no indication that by simply dragging your maps around, you’re essentially travelling through time. There is no way to know, in Google Maps, what parts of town are showing images from 2017 or 2015. Everything just show 2018 as the copyright.

Fortunately, Google Earth does give you the exact date.

So let’s move forward and use Google Earth to see what’s new in Fresno for 2017.

High Speed Rail is, at least to me, the most exciting change. Especially because you can clearly see the path the train will take. So essentially, this post bcame a stealth High Speed Rail update. Oops!

The most northern segment of construction visible is in Madera Acres, with a new road overcrossing well under construction.


But more exciting is this completed section, where the line will cross the Fresno River and CA-145.

It is easy to find additional construction as you just have to follow the existing freight line. That leads you to Cottonwood Creek.


At that point, the line will peel away to switch to the Union Pacific Alignment. The path is fully visible!


And that arrives at the San Joaquin River, posted above. But here’s a ground view of that construction from August:




From there, you go south and see how they’re moving CA-99 over.


Then work on the new tunnel under an existing rail line, a canal, and a highway.


Those stars mark where I was when I took these photos:







Also downtown, work has begun on a new underpass at Tulare Street. That’s adjacent to the future station, the existing 100+ year old (closed) train station, and the site of the now-demolished Greyhound station. This is brand new, so it’s not even on the new aerial images! But here it is anyway.




Chinatown is across this




Old train station seen on right.


South of Fresno, HSR will again switch over to the BNSF route. That’s where the most impressive piece of construction is.


I took some photos of that back in August, from the top star.




What else is new?

Well, August 2017 had the Fulton Mall close to the end of construction. I’ll be posting my tour of the completed project soon.


And the relentless march of sprawl in Clovis


Any other big changes in Fresno since the 2015 update?

You can see the images for yourself by downloading Google Earth (free) , moving the map to Fresno, and checking that you’re seeing the right date.


9 Replies to “New Google satellite imagery for Fresno! (Fall 2017)”

  1. Yo James glad to see you post another blog topic…I've been waiting. HSR is going to take at least a decade. Im not too interested in the construction because they're moving at a snails pace by the time its done ill be pushing 70. SMH.

    1. Jeffrey, hopefully they have senior discounts!

      I'll be posting a look at the BRT stations this weekend, and then hopefully a full tour of the Fulton Mall next week. Also a look at Manchester Center.

      Also, the city council is revving up to destroy the infill zoning plan AGAIN, so that needs a post

    2. im so glad i'll only be 40 when the estimate finish. If it works out I dont care if they run out of money as long as the fresno to downtown san jose route is operational. I work at google and bought a home at Copper River Ranch. my wife and 3 kids stay there not having to work and i stay around the office during the week and share a couch at my friends place in mountain view. I dont know if you heard but there will be a google campus right in downtown san jose which is also estimated to be up around when the high speed rail from the valley to downtown san jose diridon in 2025. Talks around my department is that my particular department will be moving to that san jose downtown location. I will gladly make a 45-1hr commute each day to/from Fresno. I have run into people who commute 2 to 3 hours each way due to traffic. I have told people about fresno and seriously see more people more excited about the high speed rail here than people in the valley especially fresno. If fresnans are afraid that there will be a big influx of bay transplants and raising property value, well they definitely should be because that is a high possibility especially with the downtown San Jose google campus. Homes around downtown san jose right now are ridiculous already so imagine once google is there.

    3. This is FANTASTIC NEWS!! Make sure you spread the word up there in SJ. We definitely need to diversify our economic base from Ag a mnd cust service to high tech. The people that have money to buy real estate in Fresno should do it now!

    1. No I hadn't but I'm having trouble telling if it's actually real time or if it's based off the schedule. Google used to have an icon for live times but it appears to be gone from cities that I know had it before (like Boston)

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