Fresno Sups urged to maintain support for HSR
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County Supervisor Judy Case drafted a letter to the High Speed Rail Authority which referred to the project as risky, ill-advised and an example of reckless spending and Case is troubled by the impact of the proposed rail route. "In terms of damage to existing businesses and existing families has become of great concern."
Case wanted the rest of the board to endorse her letter. But it was seen by many as a sign Fresno County's long standing support for the project was failing. Something rail opponents from Kings County were hoping for.
Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle told the Fresno Board members: "We are fighting for our way of life in Kings County."
Farmers in Kings County have lead the opposition to the rail line which would eventually link Southern California to the Bay Area, through Fresno and the Central Valley.
But, dozens of high speed rail supporters warned the Fresno County Board of Supervisors not to do anything to jeopardize the project, which could mean thousands of jobs.
Daniel Parra, a member of the Fowler City Council and the City's Mayor Pro-Tem said: "Supervisors, this letter if approved will send the wrong message to the High Speed Rail Authority." Parra and others fear if Fresno County backs down it will risk losing out on getting a maintenance facility for the trains built in the Fresno area. Merced County, which has heartily endorsed the project, also wants the maintenance yard.
Fresno Chamber of Commerce President Al Smith said the board needs to stay on board with the project or the government funding will go someplace else, like LA or San Francisco. "They are going to drop 3.5 billion dollars somewhere in the United States, and they've elected to drop that 3.5 billion here. Some are saying we shouldn't do that, we shouldn't let them spend that money here."
Smith said saying no to the project is saying no to jobs, and cleaner air.
Despite the tone of the letter the board was considering sending, Tom Richards, the Central Valley's representative on the High Speed Rail Authority board saw no problem with the board airing their concerns, but he noted a new business plan for the project will be released this week. "I do believe that a lot of the issues and concerns that have been raised will be addressed in the new business plan."
high speed rail, local, gene haagenson
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