Local

High Speed Rail supporters, opponents sound off

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Red shirted members of the Central Valley Tea Party made their feelings about High Speed Rail clear; among other things, they feel the multibillion dollar project is too expensive.

Tea Party leader Steve Wayte said; "We can't afford it at all. If we were in a boom time and we had 20 billion dollar surplus budgets, hey, I'm not against the concept of High Speed Rail, I'm against this particular plan."

But to supporters, like local union representative John Pritchard, we can't afford not to build it. "Some say this project is moving too fast. We say it's not moving fast enough. Our workers need jobs, our state needs a future."

Most who addressed members of the High Speed Rail Authority and the Federal Railroad Administration touted the economic benefits of the system connecting northern and southern California through Fresno. In addition to thousands of immediate construction jobs, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin predicted long term benefits for Fresno.

Swearengin said, "There is also significant job creation and economic value in connecting our businesses to other parts of California and other parts of California to our businesses."

But it won't come easy. In addition to slicing through rural farmland, the train will take out some businesses in Fresno. Even with promises of full compensation some like Jeff Talanian, who owns a neon sign business, aren't happy.

Talanian said, "I think if they paid me twice what I have coming I wouldn't want to move because it's such a disruption to our business, our employees."

Many along the route feel that way. But Dan Krause, of the citizens group Californians for High Speed Rail believes the problems and doubters will be overcome.

Krause said, "Not everything is perfect but overall this project has so much benefit, we have to move forward with it."

The statements made here will become part of the official record and considered in selecting the final route for the train. A decision is only a few months away.

The High Speed Rail Authority Board holds a similar hearing in Hanford on Wednesday.

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