Local

Hanford leaders hear more about proposed HSR route

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The public is getting another chance to sound off on plans for high speed rail in Kings County this week. Tuesday night, representatives from the California High Speed Rail Authority presented an alternate route to the Hanford City Council that would take the rail line west of the city.

Dr. Glen Parsons is one of the landowners who would be affected by that alternate route. He and his family live on farmland that's been in his family for more than 100 years. Five generations have called it home but now the family worries about its future. "These two western routes would carve up this farm. And ultimately, me, my brother, my other brother, my parents, and my niece would lose our homes," said Parsons.

Tuesday night, Parsons was just one of the landowners who addressed California High Speed Rail Authority representatives, speaking out against any plan that would go through Kings County. It was the first time the rail representatives visited the council since bringing back an alternate route that would go west of the city. Two routes are now being considered: one that bypasses Hanford to the east, the other to the west.

The impact on the local Amtrak station is one of the concerns of Hanford's mayor. She wants the station to remain in the heart of the city. "This thought that, 'It's s no big deal if Amtrak doesn't come to fruition, we'll still make use of the track, we'll put Amtrak on that track.' Amtrak is huge to the city of Hanford," said Mayor Sue Sorensen.

Though rail representatives were unable to completely reassure city officials, they said they are committed to making high speed rail a reality. "The authority and Amtrak are two separate systems. They serve valuable clientele. We see us working together in the future. We're not working on anything that would make the Amtrak station in Hanford go away," said Tom Tracy with the California High Speed Rail Authority.

As the high speed rail debate rages on, the Parsons are worried about what they could lose. "It's just a small house. It's not big but it's full of heart and work, and it's home," said Lorraine Parsons.

The public will have another chance to give their input on high speed rail Thursday. A meeting with high speed rail representatives will be held Sierra Pacific High School in Hanford from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

All of this comes the same week Kings County filed suit against the California High Speed Rail Authority. That lawsuit was filed Monday and aims to block the release of bond money that would fund the project.

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Tags:
hanford, kings county, high speed rail, local, amanda perez
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