State

High Speed Rail Authority unveils revised plan

Monday, April 02, 2012

The High Speed Rail Authority claims its new plan for the bullet train is better, faster and cheaper.

Some local leaders say it changes everything for the Central Valley, but not everyone is on board.

The details are still being worked out, but business owners on Tulare and G Street say there's been talks of overpasses and improvements to existing tracks.

While its still business as usual, people there are wondering how long it will stay that way..

"I'm thinking maybe I should sell before this comes in," business owner Jerry Villanueva said.

Villanueva owns the cafe and convenience store about a block west of the train tracks.

He's been to dozens of high speed rail meetings and asks questions every time.

"It's kind of frustrating not knowing what the ends going to be. You're in limbo, but you got to keep going and hope for the best," he said.

Depending on you who ask the rail is the best thing for the Central Valley.

"This means the world to entrepreneurs in Fresno who struggle to compete in LA and San Francisco simply because they're too far away," Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin said.

The revised plan will update local rail systems and will break ground on the first segment from Merced to the San Fernando valley by next year..

Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle still opposes the rail and worries the project will plow through farms and dairies.

"There's people living with a lot of tension. It's the unknown factor, what's going to happen to their property," Valle said.

Environmental studies are still being done, and while this is just the beginning the Rail Authority chairman says it's the future of California. But Dan Richard also says he understands why business and land owners are frustrated.

"We haven't been able to legally to tell them what we could try to mitigate impact and how we would compensate them fully and fairly," Richard said.

He promises to minimize the impact and says the government will help fund the project and dedicate funds from the new Cap and Trade program..

Local officials also promise 20 thousand new jobs, with the hope of bringing our unemployment rate down.

The revised plan is headed to the legislature, and the chairman plans to address the concern in Kings County at a meeting Tuesday afternoon.

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Tags:
high speed rail, california, fresno, fresno county, kings county, ashley swearengin, state
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