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Chinese High Speed Rail Delegation in Fresno

Friday, January 14, 2011

California's 800 mile high speed rail system will run right through Fresno, and China wants a piece of it.

State Assembly Member Henry T. Perea of Fresno visited China's High Speed Rail System last month and invited their officials to Fresno. He says the Chinese are interested in building the trains, the tracks and possibly a manufacturing and maintenance facility in Fresno.

"Over five billion dollars will be spent here starting next year there's a lot of interest from folks throughout the world that want to be part of the project. "Certainly the Chinese are considered one of the premier builders of High Speed Rail." Perea said.

The $5 billion from the state and federal governments is for the first phase of the project which will run from Madera to Bakersfield. It'll cost about $45 billion to link LA to San Francisco through Fresno. Later phases call for connections to San Diego and Sacramento. In addition to China, companies in Japan, Germany, France and Spain are interested. International Business Consultant Dr. Harry Harris is a frequent visitor to China. He believes the Chinese might have an edge over the other countries, because China has the money to finance a big portion of the project.

"We should be excited to have the Chinese representatives coming to our community. The Chinese have the expertise, they have the financing they have the wherewithal to assist us. The Chinese have roughly 2.5 trillion dollars. This is nothing to them. They can write the ticket. They can write the check tomorrow." Harris said.

The Chinese have also partnered with General Electric to have an American partner. Perea is introducing legislation in Sacramento to encourage some of the manufacturing be done in California, hopefully in Fresno.

"There's a lot of excitement in the business community and there's a lot excitement among elected officials because we see this as an opportunity to put so many people to work." Perea said.

Construction of the line must start by the last quarter of 2012, in order to get the Federal Funding already designated for the project. It's estimated the first segment of the line through the Central Valley will generate 100,000 construction jobs.

Steve Geil, CEO of the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation believes the economic impact will be felt before the actual excavation starts. "It's gonna start breaking ground in 2012 but some companies will have to already be here before we break ground so I think will see probably the summer of 2012 we'll see an influx of companies wanting to do high speed rail. That will have a real positive influence on our area." Geil said.

In addition to the construction jobs, once completed High Speed Rail is expected to spark a major restructuring of the Valley's economy.

Harris said, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if the people from San Francisco could be down here, or we could go there or go down south, it would just do wonders for our economy. People could actually live here and work in the city, or vice versa. The economic impact is fantastic."

The system is expected to take from 10 to 20 years to complete. Harris says, it's long overdue.

"California should have had this system built years ago. I've been travelling fast trains since 1964 ... when I took the fast train in Tokyo in 1964. And I've seen the development not only in Japan in Korea in France in Germany and China. All these fast trains are fantastic and America has been behind the power curve."

The Chinese delegation will look at various locations in and around Fresno, presumably including the site of the proposed High Speed Rail Station in Fresno's Chinatown. A community named for the early Chinese immigrants who came here in the late 1800's to work on the railroad.

"I think because we're using California taxpayer dollars on this project we should put Californians back to work."

In addition to manufacturing and maintenance Construction of the rail line itself is expected to create more than 100 thousand construction jobs in the Central Valley.

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Tags:
fresno, fresno county, high speed rail, economy, local, gene haagenson
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