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First bullet-train bridge set to rise in Central California

First bullet-train bridge set to rise in Central California
A drawing of the proposed bullet train. When completed, the trip from L.A. to San Francisco is estimated to take 2.5 hours. (California High-Speed Rail Authority / EPA)

Crews in Central California have started construction on the first visible piece of the state's $68-billion bullet-train system from Los Angeles to San Francisco, officials said Monday.

A viaduct in Madera County that spans the Fresno River is part of the first slate of construction projects for the state's long-planned bullet train, which has faced years of political, legal and funding challenges. 

The 29-mile construction zone from Madera to downtown Fresno will see two other viaducts and a dozen grade separations. The lead contractor is Tutor Perini. The California High-Speed Rail Authority has not yet selected a contractor to lay track and build electrical systems for the route.

Gov. Jerry Brown broke ground on the first phase of the bullet train six months ago. Officials say that once the full system is built the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles would take about two and a half hours.

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Although construction has begun, the project still faces funding challenges: The project has roughly $26 billion in potential state and federal money over the next 14 years, about half of the amount needed to complete the 500-mile route.

For more Los Angeles transportation news, follow @laura_nelson on Twitter.

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