High Speed Rail Maintenance Facility Proposals
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California came out the top winner in the high-speed rail grants, officially announced today by President Obama. The state will receive to $2.3-billion dollars to begin work on an 800-mile long high-speed rail system, connecting the Bay Area to Southern California, through the Central Valley.The award will not only provide faster, more energy-efficient transportation, and spur economic growth across the state. But it could have a huge impact here in the Valley.
President Obama called infrastructure projects a major element in the country's economic recovery. And to that end, he announced during his State of the Union Address, $8-billion dollars in funding, to begin a new, nationwide high speed rail system.
"There is no reason why Europe or China should have the fastest trains; or the factories that build clean energy products," said Obama.
California will get the largest share, $2.3-billion dollars, which will go towards the construction of an electrically-powered high speed rail system, connecting Northern and Southern California.
Congressman Jim Costa (D) Fresno: "We're further along than any other state in the nation and the administration recognized that."
Congressman Costa, a longtime advocate of high-speed rail, says the state has already spent millions of dollars setting the groundwork for the only "true" high speed rail system in the country which will create thousands of jobs in the Valley alone, and significantly reduce emissions.
"To the degree that we take that burden off the highways, it will help our air quality, and it will help build an intermodal transportation system, really that is state of the art for the 21st century," said Costa.
Merced and Fresno counties hope to benefit even further. Both have made proposals to the rail authority, hoping to land the system's maintenance facility.
"I feel very optimistic. I think on merit, our proposal is going to be the best," said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.
The facility will employ 1,500 people; so the county is offering 700 acres off Highway 99 and millions of dollars in incentives.
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearingen calls this an extremely important opportunity that could potentially bring a billion-dollars a year to the county. "We met all of the requirements of the site, but also we have an abundant supply of qualified workforce here. We have 100,000 people a year who are pursuing higher education and training in Fresno County alone. We know that we can supply the labor pool."
The rail system will be built in phases, the first would run through the Central Valley from Anaheim to San Francisco. The second phase will expand north to Sacramento and south to San Diego.
Governor Schwarzenegger will be in Fresno Friday morning to discuss the project.
fresno county, merced county, high speed rail, local, graciela moreno
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