Business

High Speed Rail plan picks up steam

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The four billion dollar first leg of the high speed rail project is seen as a shot in the arm for the entire region.

Mike Dozier, of the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, a state economic development agency, is excited. "I think it's really good news. It was gonna be good news regardless because it's going to be in the Valley. It's going to have an effect for all the cities between Merced and Bakersfield."

The Deputy Director of the High Speed Rail Authority, Jeff Barker says it's going to mean tens of thousands of jobs. "You'll see a lot of construction work. A lot of infrasture being put in place. A lot of track being laid. A lot of grade separation so it's the kind of jobs that will be very local ... shovels in the ground doing construction. "

But there are critics. Congressman Dennis Cardoza of Merced is upset the first leg doesn't include his city. In a statement he said "The Merced to Fresno route is the superior choice. It achieves greater ridership and begins the core of the project facilitating connections to Southern California the Bay Area and Sacramento."

Madera County supervisor Frank Bigelow is also concerned. He says the rail line threatens farmland, and provides no real benefit. "There are concerns and they must be addressed before they start digging up the ground in Madera County."

The exact alignment and other issues have yet to be decided. But with $4 billion in the bank, the project is moving, and Chinatown Business Owner Rosie Torres hopes it happens. "That's what we're looking for any city and state can use work and if this is going to bring work to our community to our city then I'm for it because a lot of people need work right now."

In addition to a station in Fresno the authority says another station near Hanford will also be built. But they want to make it clear no trains will be put on these tracks, not even for testing until Fresno is completely connected to either LA or the Bay Area.

Construction is to start in two years and take about ten years to complete.

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fresno, fresno county, fresno downtown, high speed rail, economy, business, gene haagenson
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