Valley leaders, farmers in High-Speed Rail hearing
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As plans to begin building the California's High-Speed Rail push ahead, Central Valley leaders and farmers are in Washington, D.C. preparing for a capitol hill hearing Thursday.
Mayor Ashley Swearengin, several state representatives and local farmers are in Washington, D.C. for that hearing. The mayor will push for the bullet train on behalf of local business owners. But some farmers said they're just trying to keep their property and livelihood intact.
A sign has been posted along Highway 43 at the Fresno/Kings County line for a few weeks. One side says 'Kings County says no to high speed rail. 'The other side says 'Fresno County say no to high speed rail.'
John Tos posted the sign. His family has been farming Kings County land since 1906. The high speed rail would likely cut through his farm.
"We're going to take the bull by the horns, we are not going to sit ideally by and let some foreign object come through our country side and ruin it for generations," Tos said.
The nearly $100 billion project will add 800 miles of track connecting Los Angeles to the Bay Area, through the Central Valley.
"It's a new and different mode of transportation for the U.S., so it's very uncomfortable and we're trying to figure out how to make this thing work," Mayor Swearengin told Action News by phone Wednesday. She said businesses in Fresno will benefit from the state-wide transit plan and more jobs will be added during the build.
"Based on the business plan, and based on the solid data this is the most cost effective transportation infrastructure that the state and feds could invest in," the Mayor said.
But some farmers who traveled to the capitol for the hearing said agricultural jobs will be lost at the sake of rail construction.
"Every on the farm job that they take out, takes out 10 other jobs as the product from the farm moves through the food chain to the consumer," Kole Upton, a Merced and Madera County farmer said. "You know, the trucking, the packaging, the advertising, the whole nine yards."
The first phase of the high speed rail will be built here in the Valley.
On Wednesday, Bakersfield City Council approved a resolution to oppose the rail plan as currently proposed, much in the way Kings County has done.
high speed rail, local, rick montanez
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