Politics

High Speed Rail Project is facing more skepticism

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Secretary of State announced, proponents of a new initiative can start gathering signatures in hopes of stopping the project from breaking ground.

State Senator Doug LaMalfa and former Valley Congressman George Radanovich are backing the initiative. They have about 5 months to gather more than 500-thousand signatures, in order for voters to decide.

The $68 billion High Speed Rail project is set to break ground in Fresno by the end of this year. But, not if California Senator Doug LaMalfa and former Valley Congressman George Radanovich have their way.

The goal of the anti-High Speed Rail initiative is two-fold. Prohibit the state from issuing any bonds for the project and cancel contracts associated with it.

Radanovich said, "The state should not be spending that kind of money on a project, and this comes from many people in our part of the state."

But, even with enough signatures, the initiative wouldn't make it onto the ballot until 2014. Two years too late, right? Maybe not, says Radanovich; who calls his plan a deterrent.

"I think it's going to put the fear of god in a lot of people that would be contracting to move anything forward in fear those contracts would be in jeopardy."

Fresno County supervisor Henry Perea is disappointed about the initiative, calling it a major setback for potential job growth.

Henry Perea said, "It's a job killing measure and for a Valley that has 18-percent unemployment in general, and in some communities, 40 percent, I think these individuals should be very ashamed of what they're doing."

What they're doing is no easy task. It will take a lot of time, volunteers, and about $2 million to gather the more than 504-thousand signatures needed. Both sides say, they're willing to put up a fight.

Perea said, "We will mobilize our forces to talk about how we will educate the public even further to defeat this kind of measure."

Radanovich said, "The question is at what cost? And does it put our state in a more fragile position than it already is. I don't think it's a good way to create jobs."

California voters initially approved High Speed Rail bonds back in 2008. The deadline to get enough signatures for this initiative is October 15th.

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