High Speed Rail concerns in Le Grand and Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

Town resident, and Merced County Farm Bureau President Jeff Marchini came to express his concerns. "Just wanted to give my input to the High Speed Rail Authorities in regard to how destructive it is to rural Merced County."

Marchini is upset that one of the proposed track alignments cuts through valuable farmland.

High Speed Rail spokesman Jeff Abercrombie says two alignments are being considered, but no decisions will be made until everything is evaluated, late next year. "The document does not have a preferred alignment but outlines the differences between the two."

But farmers remain uneasy, their concerns, and controversies over the high costs of the project also bother Fresno City Council President Lee Brand. He and the other council members must vote Thursday on whether to accept a nine hundred thousand dollar grant from the Rail Authority. The money would be used to plan for development around the proposed rail station in Downtown Fresno. Accepting the grant won't cost the city anything. "But then there's the principal, it's still taxpayer money." Brand said, and added; "Do you become complicit if you vote for it? I'm undecided."

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin supports High Speed Rail and is urging council support for the grant. The council will also consider accepting nearly two hundred thousand dollars in Measure C funds for High Speed Rail engineering services at Thursday's meeting.

The High Speed Rail authority still expects to break ground on the first section of High Speed Rail, in Downtown Fresno late next year.

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