City leaders concerned high-speed trains may not stop in Merced

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- State leaders have touted the high-speed rail project over and over again, despite the recent jump in cost and building delays.

With funding for the extension to Merced still unclear, city officials say they're now once again fighting for a stop on the line.

There's been a lot of controversy about where the high-speed rail is going, but Merced city officials are concerned it might not come here anytime soon.

Merced Mayor Mike Murphy said, "We know the HSR has financial constraints, we're all focused on those, we want to make sure that Merced is part of that initial operating segment because it may be a number of years before the footprint of high-speed rail has expanded."

The state rail authority announced the high-speed rail's cost jumped to more than $77 billion.

In the most recent draft, the rail authority states that while connecting Merced to the initial line is still a priority, the funding for the connection quote "still must be identified"

Mayor Murphy's concern is that city won't be considered for the heavy maintenance facility if Merced isn't a stop on the initial line.

"That's 1,500 good jobs, then a total of 4,500 jobs when you take into the indirect jobs," said Mayor Murphy. "If Merced isn't included in that initial operating segment it could make it more challenging to locate that facility."

The draft also shows that tunnels would need to be built between Gilroy and Merced toward the end of the first phase.

Action News reached out to the California High-Speed Rail Authority and officials there told us, "When we open the Silicon Valley to Central Valley line, a station to Merced will be included on opening day."

With the future of Merced's stop still unknown, Mayor Murphy says he plans to speak at the state rail California High-Speed Rail Authority's next board meeting.

"I'll be there representing Merced and encouraging them to include Merced in that initial operating segment," said Mayor Murphy.

Murphy plans to be in Sacramento tomorrow. There will be public hearings and a formal submission to the legislature in about 2 months.
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