Kings River Viaduct

Coordinates: 36°26′50″N 119°37′21″W / 36.447105°N 119.622404°W / 36.447105; -119.622404
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A map showing the three channels of the Kings River, with the planned California High-Speed Rail line crossing them in a broad arc to the east, and the community of Laton, California to the west
Planned route of California High-Speed Rail in the vicinity of the Kings River, in red

The Kings River Viaduct is a planned series of bridges and embankments carrying California High-Speed Rail over the Kings River in Fresno County and Kings County, California. The site is between the Fresno and Kings–Tulare stations, roughly 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Laton and 8 miles (13 km) north of Hanford.[1] The structure is planned to be over 2 miles (3.2 km) long because three river channels must be crossed, two of which were created by floods in the 1860s.[1][2]

In the vicinity of the crossing, the Kings River consists of three widely separated river channels collectively known as the Kings River Complex. From north to south, these are Cole Slough, Dutch John Cut, and the Old Kings River, all of which flow in a westerly direction. Cole Slough and the Old River separate at the People's Weir, the largest weir in the Kings River system. The Old River was the main course of the river until two floods in 1861 and 1867, the first of which created Cole Slough and the second of which caused it to become the river's new main course.[2] Since then the Old River has been dry except when river flows are exceptionally high. Dutch John Cut diverges from Cole Slough east of the bridge site, and joins the Old River to reform the main channel of the Kings River to the west of the bridge site. Cole Slough is then mostly diverted into several canals in the vicinity of Laton.[2]

Dirt excavation sites in the vicinity of the bridge will be reused as groundwater recharge basins once construction is complete.[3]


The Kings River Viaduct is part of Construction Package 2–3, whose contract was awarded to Dragados/Flatiron/Shimmick in December 2014; the bid for the entire Construction Package was $1,234,567,890.[4][5] The initial April 2014 plans called for an 11,680-foot-long concrete viaduct, with four truss bridge segments for the three river channels and Riverside Ditch.[1] By 2016, during the bidding process the land portions were changed to embankments containing wildlife crossings, reducing the estimated cost by $79 million. At that time construction was expected to commence in spring 2017 and be completed in 2019.[4]

In mid-2019, construction on the first portion of the bridge, the steel truss crossing of the Old Kings River, was scheduled to begin in September that year.[6] However, in December 2019 the project continued to be delayed due to land acquisition, coordination with the Fish and Wildlife Service, utility relocation, and a lawsuit from a farmer owning land adjacent to the project.[7]

As of mid-2020, the test pile foundation work is now complete. Construction of the substructure is scheduled to begin in mid-October dependent on permit approvals. [8]


  1. ^ a b c "Final EIR/EIS: Fresno to Bakersfield—Appendix 3.8-B: Summary of Hydraulic Modeling for Project Alternatives" (PDF). California High-Speed Rail Authority. April 2014. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  2. ^ a b c "The Kings River Handbook" (PDF). Kings River Conservation District. June 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  3. ^ Lindt, John (2016-02-15). "Could high-speed rail help farmers get more water?". Visalia Times-Delta. Retrieved 2016-08-28.
  4. ^ a b Lindt, John (2016-08-18). "Business pulse: High speed rail touts savings on Kings River bridge". Hanford Sentinel. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  5. ^ "High-Speed Rail Authority Announces Bid Results on Next Segment of Construction in the Central Valley" (PDF). California High-Speed Rail Authority. 2014-12-11.
  6. ^ Lindt, John (2019-06-20). "Kings River HSR bridge construction to start". The Business Journal. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  7. ^ Lindt, John (2019-12-11). "Kings-Tulare HSR station platform construction to start". The Sun-Gazette Newspaper. Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  8. ^ Lindt, John. "Around Kings County: Jobless rates improve". Retrieved 28 September 2020.

36°26′50″N 119°37′21″W / 36.447105°N 119.622404°W / 36.447105; -119.622404