High Speed Rail supporters to converge on transportation hearing

FRESNO, Calif.

But, according to Republican Congressman Jeff Denham of Atwater, there are concerns.

"It's got farmers concerned it's got taxpayers concerned I think it's got Valley residents concerned whether it's going to be the train to nowhere or whether we are going to get the most bang for our buck."

Denham joined outspoken High Speed Rail critic, and fellow Republican Congressman , Devin Nunes of Visalia in sponsoring a bill to divert up to $ 3 billion in Federal High Speed Rail funds to improve Highway 99.

California State Assembly Member Henry T. Perea sees it as a divisive tactic. "I think what they are trying to do is pit two good projects against each other which is unfortunate."

Denham says he'd like to see High Speed Rail, someday, but thinks the money would be better spent now on Highway 99.

"Right now we can turn dirt on Highway 99. We can't say that for High Speed Rail because decisions are being made for political purposes."

Congressman Jim Costa, a Democrat from Fresno supports High Speed Rail and improving Highway 99, but points out High Speed Rail funds are for trains, not highways. "It is apples and oranges. That's the point. This money is set aside for High Speed Rail, if state's don't want High Speed rail that's their prerogative, as Ohio and Wisconsin chose not to do."

Governors of both of those states rejected federal High Speed Rail funds, and that money is now heading to California .

There are real concerns about the high speed rail project that even supporters acknowledge the California High Speed Rail Authority hasn't adequately addressed. With the actual alignment in limbo some Valley farmers are worried about the tracks and the right of way crossing their land.

The listening session happens Tuesday morning from 9 a.m. until Noon at the University of California Center in Fresno at 550 E. Shaw.

The chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority has urged supporters to jam the session. A crowd of from 300 to 400 is expected.

The session will be headed by Republican Congressman John Mica of Florida. He's the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

He's been critical of California's High Speed Rail Plans. But Mica faces his own conundrum over High Speed Rail.

Florida's Republican Governor, Rick Scott, is rejecting federal funds for a proposed bullet train from Orlando to Tampa. Mica is trying to salvage some of the federal money by proposing a 20 mile rail link connecting Orlando to Disney World.

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