A federal oversight board has turned down a request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority for conditional authorization to build the Fresno-Bakersfield section of the proposed statewide bullet-train line.
In a decision announced Wednesday, the three-member Surface Transportation Board denied the state's request for an expedited decision on the 114-mile Fresno-Bakersfield route before environmental work is completed on the section.
The decision will likely mean a delay in designing and building a five-mile stretch of the route between downtown Fresno and the south edge of the city. Earlier this year, the federal board approved the Merced-Fresno portion of the rail line, and the state awarded a contract for its first 29-mile construction segment in August. But the southernmost five miles of that $1 billion contract is in the Fresno-Bakersfield section, for which environmental work has yet to be completed.