The California High-Speed Rail Authority has approved design contracts for the project that will expand into Merced and Bakersfield.

The contracts, which were awarded for 52.4 total miles, will bring the project nearer to building the final Central Valley packages.

It will help complete the 171-mile high-speed rail electrified segment and link the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Authority chairman Tom Richards said: “Taken together, these contracts bolster the Authority’s effort to have high-speed trains operating in the heart of California by the end of the decade.

“These contracts demonstrate our ability to leverage lessons learned from past contracts, increase project readiness and prepare for continued progress on this transformative project.”

Stantec Consulting Services received a $41m Merced to Madera extension design contract, spanning around 3.9 miles with 40 structures.

HNTB secured a $44.9m Fresno to Bakersfield extension contract, stretching about 18.5 miles with 31 structures between the cities of Shafter and Bakersfield in Kern County.

Both the firms, having a contract term of two years, will coordinate with the Authority to finalise the project configuration as well as progress with design work to refine expenses and journey time improvements, as well as map right of way and utility relocation.

Last week, the authority received $25m in federal funding from the US Department of Transportation to extend the project into downtown Merced.

Over half of the cost for the Madera to Merced design contract will be provided by the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant.

The board is anticipated to take measures on the San Francisco to San Jose section environmental document to finalise environmental work for over 420 miles of the 500-mile-long project.

At present, construction is underway on the high-speed rail project along 119 miles in the Central Valley of California.