High Speed Rail Project Receives Harsh Words from South Valley Leaders

June 10, 2008 11:19:27 PM PDT
There are several proposed locations for the high speed rail to run through Visalia. One of them is adjacent to this Union Pacific rail line right near Highways 198 and 99. While High Speed Rail officials continue to try to sell their idea across the state they were met with some very harsh criticism by Tulare County Supervisors Tuesday morning.High speed rail officials met for the first time with Tulare County Supervisors Tuesday morning. They came to highlight the incredibly fast, electric-powered service that will run from San Diego, through the Central Valley, to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Officials say the first phase of the project would cost $40 billion dollars paid for by a nearly $10 billion dollar bond on the November ballot plus possible federal and private funding. That analysis was met with unkind words from supervisors.

Steven Worthley, Tulare Co. Supervisor: "It's not fair to the public to use those numbers unless you've had a recent economic analysis to really give us some hard numbers. I think that is way off the mark and I think it's disingenuous."

Mike Ennis, Tulare Co. Supervisor: "You're gonna go out and ask the voters to go deeper in debt when we can't even get a water bond passed, which we desperately need."

The City of Visalia disagrees with supervisors and has even offered this land west of the Visalia airport for a high speed rail station. Rail officials say they understand the board's concerns but believe the high speed rail is the key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving public transportation up and down the state.

Eric Vonberg, HSR: "It's an electric driven project and we can provide a fast reliable transportation other than the automobile."

High Speed Rail officials hope to come back to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors with a more detailed financial analysis of the plan by November. If the bond passes in November, officials hope to begin construction on the high speed rail within three years.


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