Judging by the size of the crowd here at the Save Mart Center at Fresno State, high-speed rail is on the fast-track to becoming reality. The California High Speed Rail Authority plans to break ground on the first stretch of it's statewide 800-mile train system in Fresno next September. Thursday morning, it reached out to more than 120 companies looking to put people to work.
"Any part of the construction part of it we can bid on and possibly supply would be wonderful," said Chris McNabb with Jaxon Enterprises.
McNabb is the Marketing and Sales Manager at Jaxon Enterprises in Madera. He's looking for subcontracting opportunities with high-speed rail. "The paving company would look at any roadwork, possibly parking lots they'd have at any of the depots. We'd actually supply rock for the rail bed itself."
California High-Speed Rail CEO Roelof Van Ark told the crowd the project would create tens of thousands of jobs and make our state more economically competitive. A statement that resonated with local firms like Quad Knopf of Visalia.
Knopf says he's looking to partner with other local businesses to get high-speed rail moving. "I think local firms have a lot to bring to the project. First of all they're close in proximity and they understand the impacts of the project on local communities, businesses, landowners."
The rail authority will begin screening bidders and asking for proposals in the next 6 to 8 months.
Opponents of the high speed rail project are holding a series of meetings beginning Thursday night to help people understand new environmental reports. They're being held at the Kit Carson School at Seventh and Lacey. The meeting is being held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, and on Saturday, from 89 a.m. to noon.