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High-speed board OKs next section to Bakersfield

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The board that oversees California's $68 billion high-speed rail project has unanimously adopted a planned route for its second and most substantial section to date, a 114-mile stretch between Fresno and Bakersfield.

Meeting in Fresno, the board voted Wednesday to approve a 20,000-page environmental planning document, sending the next phase of the project on for federal review. Engineering work has started on the first, much shorter section, a 30-mile segment from Merced to Fresno.

The document approved Wednesday includes plans to address air quality during construction, add green space to compensate for damaged habitat and prevent the spread of the highly contagious fungal disease known as Valley fever.

The complex review is required to comply with state and federal environmental laws and has been in the works since 2011.

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