The California High-Speed Rail Authority announced April 22 it will require contractors use only zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) for their project fleets in all future construction contracts.

At the 35 active construction sites spanning 119 miles in the Central Valley, the authority mandates contractor fleets be composed of newer, more fuel-efficient model years. But, with ZEV technology improving and more options becoming available, the authority will now require 100% ZEVs for such fleets in future infrastructure construction contracts.

This implementation strategy will drive harmful emissions closer to zero and is intended to keep harmful particulates out of the air in communities with poor air quality and high rates of asthma, like many near the high-speed rail project in the Central Valley.

Additionally, the policy leverages the scale of the project to create innovation in off-road construction equipment, which has a more difficult set of parameters to get to zero emissions. The authority already mandates all such equipment meet the highest emission standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency— Tier 4. This policy has significantly reduced project emissions, eliminating 172,000 lbs. of would-be criteria air pollution to date. This implementation strategy will go further, mandating that by 2030, where feasible, 10% of off-road equipment be ZEV, not just Tier 4, at the start of a contract. It further sets the goal of 100% ZEV for such equipment by 2035, where feasible.

The authority is responsible for planning, designing, and building a 100% renewably powered high-speed rail service between San Francisco and Los Angeles and Anaheim, via the Central Valley. With the system capable of speeds above 200 miles per hour, the trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles will take under three hours.

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