Kings County High Speed Rail critics are frustrated

FRESNO, Calif.

Thursday night, they gathered to talk about their concerns, and the plans they have to keep the five- hundred-mile project out of their area.

On Tuesday, the Kings County Board of Supervisors will vote on whether they approve the High Speed Rail project or not.

The supervisors are expected to shoot down the idea, fearing it will destroy their main source of income.

Steve Walker said, "It would take out, probably about 500 foot of this field."

Walker has produced almonds and walnuts on this Hanford farm for the past 25 years. But, that livelihood is now in jeopardy. His property sits right in the path of one of two High Speed Rail routes proposed for Kings County.

Walker said, "I haven't found one person that actually wants it over here."

Thursday night, Walker joined nearly four dozen Kings County residents who feel the same way.

Diana Peck with the county's farm bureau helped organize the nearly two hour meeting. She says it's in response to an announcement the Rail Authority made last week. They introduced an alternative route, which bypasses Hanford to the west, instead of the east.

Diana Peck said, "We had been demanding an alternative along existing transportation corridors, specifically Highway 99 or I-5, and instead they brought us an alternative that is identical as far as its impacts and its conflicts with the community."

Aside from cutting through private properties, another concern residents have is the possibility of losing their local Amtrak station. Transportation they say is cheaper than High Speed Rail.

Vivian Nakken said, "I can't afford that. We're on a fixed income. We're all retired."

Kings County supervisor, Doug Verboon claims he has tried working with the Rail Authority on less invasive options.

Doug Verboon said, "They refuse to acknowledge us, so we about had enough, so we're gonna put our foot down."

The board is expected to adopt a resolution on Tuesday, declaring their disapproval the project.

The High Speed Rail Authority says they have taken people's concerns into consideration. They've held public meetings all over Valley.

Final decisions are expected early next year with construction of the first leg set to start next fall in Fresno.

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