High Speed Rail Authority member tours Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno County officials would like to turn into a rail maintenance yard. The proposed yard sits off Highway 99, between Central and Adams Avenue.

This is what Californians voted to build in 20008. Two years later the High Speed Rail Authority is planning for the 800 mile system and its stations.

Fresno Mayor, Ashley Swearengin said, "I believe that high speed rail would be an absolute game changer for Fresno."

But the coveted prize for county's like Fresno is the heavy maintenance yard jobs to keep trains serviced. An estimated billion dollar a year boom. Fresno isn't the only city competing for it. On Tuesday county representatives met with an authority board member in Downtown Fresno.

"We have a coordinated approach. We answer all the questions of the authority. We make sure we do whatever we can to insure that Fresno is selected," said Swearengin.

There are a handful of counties vying for the prize. Authority board member, Judge Quentin Kopp, arrived from the Bay Area ready to listen. "I'll see, we'll see that's why I'm here: the see the possibilities in Fresno."

Judge Kopp would learn about the site and the available skilled work force here over lunch.

Randy Ghan represents labor in four Central Valley counties. This prize, he says could lift up skilled workers in a time of 15 to 16 percent unemployment. "This is what we need to get out of this recession and rebuild the middle class."

A birds' eye view of the potential site followed lunch as FPD Skywatch offered an aerial glimpse and another opportunity to pitch Fresno County.

"I know there are a lot of obstacles and they're a lot of things to be worked out but I think it's directionally correct and we have to pursue it," said Swearengin.

Other California Rail Authority members are expected to receive the same message when they visit here later this month.

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