The board of directors of the California High-Speed Rail Authority in the US has approved the design and support services contract for Central Valley stations.

This contract has been awarded for the Merced, Fresno, Kings/Tulare, and Bakersfield stations, which will be used by passengers on the initial 171-mile section.

Foster + Partners and Arup (F+P Arup) received a station design contract worth around $35m for the first of two separately funded phases.

The first will include the advancement of the design work at the four station sites, including the determination of right-of-way and utility relocation requirements necessary for construction.

This phase is expected to be completed in 30 months.

The second will cover the advancement to final design and construction-ready documents, construction support, and commissioning.

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California High-Speed Rail Authority chairman Tom Richards said: “The first four Central Valley high-speed rail stations are one step closer to reality.

“High-speed rail stations will transform cities, spur economic development, and create community hubs within the heart of our state.”

With more than 30 active job sites, the California high-speed rail project is presently under construction along 119 miles in Central Valley.

The authority also started advancing design work on the alignment for the expansion of work north into Merced and south into Bakersfield.

Earlier this month, the authority announced it is seeking $67m in new federal funds to advance key safety upgrades along the railway line in the Central Valley.