High Speed Rail plans through Downtown Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

The High-Speed Rail Authority's planned route through Chinatown will force some businesses like J and J Cafe on G and Tulare to either move or close.

"I didn't establish this business because I want to throw my hands up," said Jerry Villanueva took over the convenience store and cafe a few years ago. But, the High-Speed Rail Authority's planned route has no room for his business.

"I see exactly what they want to do; the market is depressed right now. They'll take over the business, they'll low-ball us and we'll be gone," said Villanueva.

While some small businesses will be impacted, the Rail Authority said its plan to run the bullet train through downtown will bring economic growth to the area.

The route is good news according to Full Circle Brewery owner Don Anderson. His restaurant at F and Ventura sits just west of the impact zone. "To me, I think it's a positive thing, a lot of people are afraid of it, but there's a process in place that I think can work well," Anderson said.

Maps presented Thursday evening also show plans for several overpasses to be built in downtown. Those would be along Tulare and Ventura, with train stations at Kern and Mariposa.

The high-speed rail tracks would pass through Fresno along the current train tracks, primarily impacting businesses along Railroad Avenue and G Street through Downtown Fresno.

The Rail Authority maintains it will follow state and federal laws to adequately compensate property owners for their land.

"It's our goal always to negotiate preferably and primarily, only using eminent domain as a last resort," said Rail Authority Press Secretary Rachel Wall.

The next step is the release of an environmental impact report at the end of July. The rail authority hopes information from that report will help to minimize impacts to homes and businesses along the route.

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